Those 74 Million

Ignore, incite, integrate, indict….?

The biggest, most frequent complaint I hear from my Blue readers: 

Why do you keep referencing the notion that Joe Biden should take into account the 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump?

Those holding this posture are animated by views ranging from:

All Trump voters are racists enablers whose political views are shaped by anti-American lies.

to

Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer have no time to waste trying to win over those 74 million, since they are not going to change their ways or be persuaded anytime soon – and the country faces unprecedented crises that need to be addressed pronto.

I think three main things about this matter:

1. Figuring out how to get Trump voters to participate on the national town square guided by truth and facts and not animus towards the left is one of the most important and difficult challenges facing America in the short and long term.

2. Congressional Republicans will be guided in their determinations about whether to cooperate with Biden’s legislative agenda to a large extent based on the views of those 74 million.

3. Team Biden does not seem to understand (or care) that what is happening now in real time is making the realities of (1) and (2) unidirectionally worse.

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ON THURSDAY:

[I]s unemployment insurance only an issue that Democrats in the country want?  Do only Democrats want their kids to go back to schools?  Do only Democrats want vaccines to be distributed across the country?  That's -- we feel that that package -- he feels that package is designed for bipartisan support.

-- Jen Psaki at the White House briefing, speaking her version of the truth, which is not Mitch McConnell’s version

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“Public sentiment is everything. With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, you can accomplish virtually nothing.”

-- Nancy Pelosi, quoting her favorite Abe Lincoln sentiment for the umpteenth time

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Even in the absence of Trump’s polarizing presence, compromise remains anathema. And the best intentions and earnest rhetoric aren’t enough to alter that reality, even for a day.

-- Politico, in an essential read on all the ways DC is resisting Biden’s unity appeals so far

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Senate Republicans vowed Thursday that President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill will not get 60 votes, daring the White House to either compromise with the GOP or use partisan procedural tactics to evade their filibuster.

-- Another Politico story on the quick reintroduction of road and rubber

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“It’ll be incredibly divisive for the country if we go through that. We’re in the middle of this massive pandemic. We’ve got all these nominations that we need to do. We’ve got all these threats around the world that we’ve got to be focused on. There’s a lot to be done. The notion that we’re going to spend a week or two weeks on a trial on somebody who’s not even in office — it sounds to me like a waste of time.”

-- Marco Rubio on a Senate impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump

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 “The president of the United States committed an act of incitement of insurrection. I don't think it's very unifying to say, 'Oh, let's just forget it and move on.' That's not how you unify.”

-- Nancy Pelosi on a Senate impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump

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Two of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans criticized Biden’s emerging agenda.

“We face significant challenges that require bipartisan responses. Today’s Executive Orders reverse important policies and impose significant economic cost that will imperil our recovery,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the most senior Republican to vote last week to impeach Trump, said in a statement.

And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the lone Senate GOP vote last year to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial, declared his opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, returning to his roots as the proclaimed deficit hawk 2012 Republican candidate.

“We just passed a program with over $900 billion in it. I’m not looking for a new program in the immediate future,” the 2012 GOP presidential nominee told reporters.

-- the Washington Post

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And the participants in the Thursday night focus group I conducted with eight Trump voters said conclusively that Joe Biden would not do a better job on the pandemic than his predecessor and that Mitch McConnell is a moderate.

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Joe Biden’s planned message of the day is built around his executive actions on and vision for economic recovery, with remarks scheduled for 2:45pm ET.

Democrats who are decrying the lack of cooperation by Republicans in these early days can continue to curse the Dark Redness – or they can try to figure out how to defuse it, for the good of America.

I don’t think it is in any sense fair that Team Biden has to convince a lot of people who continue to believe without evidence that the election was stolen that they should listen to the new president talk without hearing the voice of an adult from “Peanuts,” but, sorry, it seems they have to do some convincing.

And that convincing starts with understanding that the very resentments that gave us four years of Donald Trump as president are not just stewing – they are being regenerated and renewed fresh daily.

Now, some of that hot-off-the-presses anger and disdain is based on lies, misinformation, and flat-out hostility.

But some of it is unquestionably justified and understandable.

So, whether you are a liberal employee of a liberal cable news network, a Biden adviser, or a Zabar’s zealot, please read the following exhibits after putting yourself in the mindset and shoes of one of the (reasonable) people who voted for Donald Trump.

Ask yourself if the reality presented has some connection to actual reality – and if you think the way the Dominant Media is covering the matters in question is making Joe Biden’s task harder or easier.

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EXHIBT A: An email from a Wide World of News reader:

I'm sure you're bombarded with comments from your readers, but I'll add another as a conservative who hated everything about Trump but his policies.

The Great Uniter Joe Biden today called essentially anyone who doesn't agree with the Democratic Party and its radical agenda a white supremacist and a domestic terrorist.   But not a word when actual Domestic Terrorists were occupying, burning and looting our cities all summer - those were his voters.  Scranton Joe on Day 1 cancels a pipeline costing thousands of good-paying jobs.   He has done nothing concrete since the election to evidence that he is anything but the Trojan Horse for the progressives we feared he would be.

And the Dominant Media laps it up - let's all call for unity and civility now that we're back in charge. 

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EXHIBIT B: A colloquy from the White House daily press briefing between a Fox News reporter and the press secretary:

Q    Why weren't President Biden and all members of the Biden family masked at all times on federal lands last night, if he signed an executive order that mandates masks on federal lands at all times?

MS. PSAKI:  At the Inaugural –-

Q    At the Lincoln Memorial.  Yes. 

MS. PSAKI:  I think, Steve, he was celebrating an evening of a historic day in our country.  And certainly he signed the mask mandate because it's a way to send a message to the American public about the importance of wearing masks, how it can save tens of thousands of lives. 

We take a number of COVID precautions, as you know here, in terms of testing, social distancing, mask wearing ourselves, as we do every single day.  But I don't know that I have more for you on it than that.

Q    But as Joe Biden often talks about, it is not just important the “example of power” but the “power of our example.”  Was that a good example for people who are watching who might not pay attention normally?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, Steve, I think the power of his example is also the message he sends by signing 25 executive orders, including almost half of them related to COVID; the requirements that we're all under every single day here to ensure we're sending that message to the public. 

Yesterday was a historic moment in our history.  He was inaugurated as President of the United States.  He was surrounded by his family.  We take a number of precautions, but I don't think -- I think we have big -- bigger issues to worry about at this moment in time.

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EXHIBIT C: From a recent Washington Post story:

Trump increased his vote totals in every state [from 2016 to 2020]….

He attracted new support in cities, small towns and exurbs in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Florida. Even in defeat, the depth and breadth of Trump’s gains suggest that the Republican Party, and Trump himself, can be expected to search for — and find — new voters in a broader array of states in the coming years than is widely understood  

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EXHIBIT D: From somewhere I won’t say, in order to not prejudice any Blue minds:

Cowardice is in charge of many newsrooms. Fear instead of reason—fear of losing a job in the next Twitter eruption, fear of being knifed by ideologically obsessed colleagues—determines what you can see, hear or be taught in certain of our institutions. Jefferson said a free press is democracy’s indispensable bulwark. If so, returning courage to our newsrooms may be more important to bringing America back and restoring a semblance of consensus than any job Mr. Biden will formally accept on Wednesday.

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EXHIBIT E: From Joe Biden’s Thursday, for those who dismiss the characterization of him as a hothead, among others:

“You set the goal at 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days — is that high enough?” Miller asked. “Shouldn’t we set the bar higher? That’s basically where the U.S. is right now.”

Biden bristled at the question and sniped at Miller in response.

“When I announced it you all said it’s not possible,” Biden said. “Come on, give me a break, man. It’s a good start, 100 million.”

The president did not engage further. He got up and left the room as an aide broke up the proceedings by urging reporters out.

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What do you think about those exhibits?

Meaningless?

Random?

Testaments to the delusions and resentments of the MAGA crowd?

Overblown?

I submit: 

If you want Joe Biden to avoid nixing the filibuster or using reconciliation to start addressing the challenges we face; if you want the new president to be able to bend Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and eight other Republican Senators to his will in a gentle and kind manner; if you want to put unity in the service of a more perfect union any time soon – if you want any of that, know that for a vast majority of the 74 million Trump voters (and for some number of Biden voters…), these exhibited incidents and episodes represent a series of human whistles that will define the contours of possibility that congressional Republicans will respond to their sense of public sentiment in a way that can make the Biden presidency a success.

Psaki suggests President Biden is about to build a great big coalition of interest groups and congressional Republicans — and paradigms are about to change.

Tony Blinken’s declaration during his confirmation hearing that Donald Trump was right to force a change in the U.S.-China relationship through new, aggressive steps is one of the few exceptions this week that proves the most important truth of the early days of the Biden Era:

We are seeing more of the same, from which how could anyone reasonably expect a different result??

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Vice President Harris will live temporarily at Blair House.

Dave Chappelle tests positive for COVID-19.

* Essential reading New York Post story: “Jane Krakowski denies undercover romance with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell”

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Please meet the new venture I am launching with my colleagues, Audra and Paul Wilke.

Paul, Audra and I have been working together since early last year in their capacities at their PR firm, Upright Position Communications and as producers of our weekly TV program “Focus Group.”

Our new company is called Walking Duck.

TechCrunch featured our efforts here.

“Can any news organization bridge the separate realities that the left and right seem to occupy in U.S. politics? A new startup with the odd-yet-memorable name Walking Duck is going to try.”

As Paul wrote on Medium

Journalism, in many ways, is broken. We watch, read, comment on, retweet and engage with reporting we either wholeheartedly agree with or absorb what we find shocking. There’s a better, middle ground. If you’re a regular MSNBC viewer, I don’t expect you to go watch Fox News for two hours a day or vice versa, but there is good reporting done every day on stories that you need to know about. We all just need to find them.

At launch Walking Duck includes this newsletter; our 24/7 reporting and analysis website; our weekly TV program on Newsmax "Mark Halperin's Focus Group”; a virtual focus group business-to-business service; our "Bedtime Stories" podcast; and more to come. If it involves delivering accurate information in a nimble way, The Duck abides.

Wide World of News will continue to be available as it is now in format, timing, and delivery method and/but if you like what you get here, please check in with our website throughout the day (and night) for more of the same news and analysis.

And if you are interested in becoming our partner, client, customer, advertiser, or sponsor on any of these products – or want to learn more about what we do -- please email us at info@walkingduck.com

As I said, more tk!