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States that take forever to count votes should copy states that do it better. And other stuff.
By Gary Abernathy
Welcome to the first post-midterm election edition of Abernathy Road. It took a ridiculous amount of time for some states to count their votes — please call Ohio, Florida, West Virginia and a few others for tips on how to do it right — but now we know that Democrats again control the Senate — as of now courtesy of Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, although that might not be necessary if Democrat Raphael Warnock defeats Republican Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate run-off on Dec. 6. And these run-offs are another change that should be made by the states that cling to them. Can we get rid of them? Barring races that are within one-half of one percent or something ridiculously tight like that, there’s no reason on God’s green earth why we shouldn’t know election results on election night — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Ok, I’m calmer now. Here we go…
Setting up election night with PBS NewsHour roundtable
I enjoyed being part of the PBS NewsHour’s election night coverage. Above is a clip from the regular NewsHour program of Nov. 8 leading into the special coverage where the roundtable set the stage for the evening. Most of us were expecting a bigger Republican showing than what ended up happening.
It was particularly nice, from my perspective, to meet David Brooks of the New York Times and share the stage with him. I’m usually only asked to do NewsHour when David is unavailable, so it was different to actually be on the program with him. Different, in a good way. Nice to meet you, David.
The program was scheduled to go until midnight, but host Judy Woodruff extended it until 12:30 a.m. By the way, as most people have heard, Judy is stepping down from her anchor duties at the end of the year, but will continue with PBS as she undertakes a two-year project examining America’s great political divide, and how it might be healed, if possible. My understanding is that she’ll be doing a lot of traveling for on-site reporting. Sounds like a great project.
Judy will be missed. Her skills — which include fairness, balance and making pertinent comments while asking relevant questions on the fly — remain undiminished with age or time. She is truly impressive. But the two people stepping in to take on the anchor duties, Amna Nawaz and Geoff Bennett, are top-flight journalists who will do a great job. Here’s a link to a news release announcing their new duties.
Voters aren’t ready to trust either party too much
In my post-election column for the Post, I concluded that neither party came away with much to celebrate.
The mixed messages voters sent in the midterms reflected a nation still deeply divided and leery of both major political parties. Most Americans haven’t embraced the rhetoric that “extreme MAGA Republicans,” as President Biden began labeling them, are on a mission to destroy democracy. The New York Times reported that as of noon Wednesday, more than 210 Republicans “who questioned the 2020 election” had so far won House and Senate seats, along with races for governor, secretary of state and attorney general. That number is certain to grow.
Even a series of high-profile, televised congressional Jan. 6 committee hearings failed to persuade most Americans to be afraid of the big bad wolf. It was always a perplexing argument, considering that the MAGA candidates in question were pursuing power the old-fashioned way — through democratic elections.
The Democrats’ other big election message, on GOP threats to abortion rights, had mixed results. Some Republican candidates, including Ohio congressional incumbent Steve Chabot, bit the dust after being hammered in ads as being “obsessed” with taking away abortion rights, but pro-life Senate candidate J.D. Vance cruised to victory in the same state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had one of the biggest and widest GOP wins of all while embracing various antiabortion views.
In fact, anyone looking for “the message” sent by voters in the midterms would find voters all over the place.
WaPo data guru sets record straight on ‘gerrymandering’
David Byler is a data guru for The Washington Post who often presents statistics and data in ways you don’t often get from a lot of mainstream media sources.
In a recent column, David took aim at the notion that Republican gerrymandering is the reason Democrats lost the House in the midterms. He wrote:
The national House map is mostly fair. Democrats got close to taking the House because they performed shockingly well in swing districts while losing ground in red seats. Those facts mattered more than the details of redistricting…
…And when all the maps — the genuinely fair ones, along with GOP and Democratic gerrymanders — are added up, the national landscape looks more or less fair, even if redistricting has made things unfair in certain places.
Trump announces another run, but choices abound
For those who liked what Donald Trump did as president — as I did when he focused on substance over nonsense and before he refused to accept the results of the 2020 election — his announcement that he’s going for it again is not happy news, either for the country or the Republican Party.
In the Post, I summed it up like this, referencing Trump’s weird attack on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis:
The separation is happening fast. The divorce will follow. A YouGov poll, taken after Trump first floated “De-Sanctimonious,” showed Trump already has been eclipsed by the Florida governor.
When the party leaves Trump, where will it go? Never Trump Republicans have clung to the hope that their prodigal party would return to them. They still don’t accept that the party they loved didn’t just leave ― it died. These Republicans, wedded to a bloodless country club conservatism, would hardly recognize most rank-and-file members of today’s populist GOP, let alone have brunch with them.
No, “Trumpism” will outlast its maker.“There has never been anything like it, this great movement of ours, and there may never be anything like it again,” Trump said Tuesday. He may well be right. But he cannot win a general election, meaning his movement will thrive only if someone other than Trump leads it.
I talked it over with Hoppy Kercheval on his “Talkline” show on WVMetroNews.
I also joined the Post’s James Hohmann and Henry Olsen on a “Twitter Spaces” conversation immediately following Trump’s announcement to dissect it all. Click below to listen in; goes about 25 minutes I think.
And I just like William Shatner’s answers to questions
Michael Gerson’s death deprives us of a caring voice
Michael Gerson was a columnist for the Post, and his passing last week at 58 of complications from cancer deprives us of a compassionate and intelligent voice. He was an evangelical Christian who never grasped the evangelical support for Donald Trump. I consider myself an evangelical Christian, and I disagreed with Mike about Trump. But he always wrote with sincerity, and always left me considering his point of view when I read his columns.
In a heartfelt remembrance, his colleague Karen Tumulty writes:
But civility, as Mike also noted, does not preclude tough-mindedness. Nor should it be mistaken for a lack of principles or perspective. His own were rooted in the faith that fueled and defined his involvement with politics, and he was scorching in his assessment of his fellow evangelicals when theirs took what he saw as a more cynical turn. In a September essay, he wrote these supposedly conservative Christians “have broadly chosen the company of Trump supporters who deny any role for character in politics and define any useful villainy as virtue. In the place of integrity, the Trump movement has elevated a warped kind of authenticity — the authenticity of unfiltered abuse, imperious ignorance, untamed egotism and reflexive bigotry.”
“This,” Mike wrote, “is inconsistent with Christianity by any orthodox measure.”
Again, while I disagreed with him on Trump and evangelicals, his was a legitimate viewpoint in the marketplace of ideas.
He often wrote deeply personal columns. Here’s one the Post has been highlighting, about the mixed emotions of dropping off his son at college. Check it out.
‘Capehart & Abernathy’ on special counsel and other news
As previously mentioned, when David Brooks is unavailable, I’m sometimes asked to fill in on Friday’s edition of the PBS NewsHour to share thoughts with Jonathan Capehart on the news of the week. Amna Nawaz was filling in for Judy Woodruff last week. Here you go…
And it’s interesting where people get their news
What’s interesting is being reminded of the different sources where people get their news. I heard from various people, including some who never would have seen me on the NewsHour, or even noticed my columns in the Post, but who were aware of what I had to say about the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel to investigate Donald Trump because my NewsHour comments were highlighted by Breitbart.
I’m not wearing bigger clothes. Just being less of a glutton.
Several folks, seeing some of my recent media appearances, have asked if I’ve lost weight, or is the camera playing tricks? In fact, I’ve dropped about 40 pounds in the last 6 or 7 months after my wife, Lora, gifted me with a Fitbit, which we laughed about at first, but which I started wearing and, then, tracking calories. Seems that if you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will, indeed, lose weight. Who knew?
So, my only diet has consisted of not being such a glutton. With some extra walking and just eating less — but still eating the same foods and candies I like to eat — I’ve dropped some weight, which I have wanted to do for a while. So there’s a free plug for Fitbit.
Until next time — have a cheeseburger! I will.