The Electoral College meets December 14.
The next administration is taking shape. Biden continues to build out his administration-in-waiting, making clear a large slate of key national security picks who will be charged with protecting American democracy and encouraging democracy worldwide.
The world was waiting on Lansing. Biden’s new diplomats can start their tenure next year by explaining to the world the scene of American democracy live-streamed from Michigan’s capital on Monday — a normally technical state government meeting strangely given huge national importance.
Never before have the arcana, legalese and fine print of American election law been so widely scrutinized as Trump desperately searched for holes and a way to taint or delay results in multiple states.
Bottoms-up America. Monday was, however, a great reminder that in this country, not even the political apparatus behind a hugely powerful US president can influence a state election board.
It was two parts ‘Parks and Rec’ and one part airing of grievances. If you’ve never spent time watching your city, town or town council meeting, this is what it’s like, no matter the subject.
City election officials, county clerks, former Republican canvassers and Michigan legal experts told members of the four-member bipartisan board their duty was to certify the results, allowing audits and challenges to occur in court.
The Michigan GOP argued the results should be delayed to give more review to Wayne County in particular, pushing Trump’s unfounded conspiracy theories. That these insidious claims found an audience in a Republican member of the Michigan canvassing board despite the President’s loss by more than 150,000 votes was the latest ongoing drama of the after-election.
When I stopped watching to write this newsletter, there were more than 500 people waiting to speak and they were limiting each person to 1:30 of speaking time.
Final result: The two Democrats and one Republican voted to certify the results. So Trump will have to look for a new loophole. He’s running out of states and he’s running out of options.
If you don’t think Trump still holds sway over the GOP and over his supporters, look to the ratings dip at Fox News as he’s continued to vilify the network that for so long seemed like his state TV. And look to the fact that so few Republicans in Congress and elsewhere, still, have acknowledged Biden, although the number is growing.
: Biden’s Cabinet
Still waiting to begin his official transition, Biden has begun filling out his Cabinet in a big way and actually earlier than other previous recent presidents.
Here’s a snapshot:
That’s a lot of Cabinet pieces. But he’s got a long way to go.
: Thanksgiving dilemma, continued
The New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo did a valuable exercise in which he talked about the difficulty of deciding whether to travel for Thanksgiving.
He talked about how carefully he’s been adhering to social distancing. But then he mapped who he actually comes into contact with. And who they come into contact with. And his bubble was suddenly very big indeed.
But what’s at the end of the story is the most incredible part. Despite proving the point about the bubble and how easily the disease is transmitted and the warnings of the CDC and epidemiologists, Manjoo decided his plans are within the letter of the recommendations — outdoors, a small number of people — and he’ll take the trip.
: So many people have died
I went through some old editions of this newsletter and came across the one from April when the Americans dying of Covid were about to surpass the number of Americans who died in Vietnam.
“The country continues to try to figure out how to process tragic human loss on a wartime scale with the continued and unfathomable economic loss necessary to make sure fewer people die.”
When I wrote that, I would not have believed we’d blow past five times the American dead in Vietnam without seeming to slow down. But we seem to have lost the sense of scale of what’s happened and the number of deaths seems to be accepted
Even with universal mask wearing, according to the IHME’s least deadly Covid projection, more than 110,000 Americans will die between today and Super Bowl Sunday, on February 21. That’s nearly enough people to fill 65,000-seat Raymond James stadium in Tampa. Twice.