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Let me admit, as a start, that I'm a fan of New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz. Sadly, our world -- and Donald Trump in particular -- was made for him. A typical recent Borowitzian headline about the aftermath of Election 2020: "Trump defends lawsuits: 'No one knows more about fraud than me.'" I'd like to say that, Borowitz aside, you couldn't make this stuff up. But in the Trump years, our lives have increasingly become a grim kind of living, breathing satire.
How about, just to give you an example, that "big press conference" Rudy Giuliani held in the parking lot of the Four Seasons as part of the Trump campaign against the "stolen" presidential election? Oh, in case you hadn't heard, not the hotel chain, but Four Seasons Total Landscaping; you know, that outfit right next door to the sex shop and crematorium at some random spot in suburban Philadelphia.
And then, a day or two later, 10 weeks before his presidency was to end, Donald Trump fired Mark Esper (or "Yesper"), his secretary of defense, as punishment for not doing what any secretary of defense must do (it's in the name of the post, isn't it?): defend the president of the United States from all comers. And hey, it seems you haven't heard the last "You're fired!" from Donald Trump, a man who, above all, doesn't want to hear one phrase missiled at him: You're fired!
How any of this will work out remains to be seen, but unfortunately, satiric as it sometimes seems, it's anything but a comedy, as TomDispatch regular John Feffer, author most recently of the just-published book The Pandemic Pivot, makes all too clear today. Tom
Biden Rushes in Where Clinton Failed to Tread
The Return of the Goldilocks Apocalypse
By John Feffer
Imagine for a moment that Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election in 2016.
Imagine, in other words, that the "blue wall" of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania had held firm four years ago. Claiming election fraud, Donald Trump would have insisted on a recount and Election Day would then, too, have stretched into election week and election month. Eventually, Trump would have given up, though not without insisting that the "deep state" had stolen his victory.
Once in office, Clinton would have set to work building on the Obama legacy. The United States would have remained in the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear agreement would still be in force, and perhaps a more robust health-care plan might even be in place. Competent civil servants would have taken charge of federal agencies, a tax cut for the wealthy wouldn't have gone into effect, and the Democrats would have been well positioned in 2020 to reelect the first woman president and build a stronger congressional majority.
America wouldn't have gone down the rabbit hole of Trumpism. Civic discourse wouldn't have been coarsened. The country wouldn't now be in such complete and utter...
Hey, wake up!
If Hillary had somehow managed to eke out a victory in 2016, she would soon enough have faced a Republican Party as hostile to compromise as the one that hamstrung Barack Obama. Opposition from Congress and Republican-controlled states, combined with her own centrist instincts, would have kept the country mired in a failing status quo: an increasingly unequal economy, crumbling infrastructure, a growing carbon footprint, a morbidly obese Pentagon, and other signs of a declining superpower that we've come to know so well.
Now, imagine what would have happened when the pandemic struck in 2020. Clinton would have responded more competently than The Donald because virtually anyone over the age of 12 would have been better suited to handle the emergency than he was. Indeed, if the United States had managed Covid-19 with anything faintly approaching the competency of, say, Germany under Angela Merkel, the country would have had, by my calculations, 2.6 million infections and about 45,000 deaths on the eve of the 2020 elections.
That obviously would be better than the 10 million infections and more than 245,000 deaths the United States is currently experiencing.
Keep in mind, however, that Americans wouldn't have known just how bad the situation could have been. Quite the opposite: having set up a bully pulpit in an alt-right Fox News-style media conglomerate after his loss in 2016, Donald Trump would have led the charge on Clinton's "mismanagement" of the pandemic and her direct responsibility for all those deaths. He would have assured us that the resulting economic downturn, with striking numbers of Americans left unemployed, could have been avoided, and that he as president would have prevented both those deaths and business cutbacks by immediately closing all borders and deporting any suspicious foreigners. He would have labeled the president "Killer Clinton" and, given the misogyny of significant parts of the American electorate, the name would have stuck.
In 2020, Donald Trump would have run on a platform of making America great again and won in a landslide.
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