Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DEJOY IS MERELY A TOOL IN TRUMP'S EFFORT TO DISRUPT THE ELECTION: Louis DeJoy, the Greensboro businessman and GOP mega-donor, may think of himself as a big shot with a lofty federal government appointment – U.S. Postmaster General. But to President Donald Trump, DeJoy is just another convenient bit-player in his dangerous and unrelenting effort to disrupt the 2020 elections. So far in North Carolina, it appears that request for mail-in ballots are both being handled expeditiously by local Elections Boards and mail service has been delivering requested ballots in a timely manner. Regardless, President Trump is determined to concoct an election crisis and plant distrust. First, he raised unfounded suspicions of potential fraud in connection with mail-in voting. Then he comes to North Carolina and tells voters to break the law – calling on voters to cast ballots by mail and then on Election Day try to vote again – to see if efforts to double vote are detected. He’s sought to raise doubts about the legitimacy of counting votes cast whether those delivered by mail or cast in person at early voting sites.

THOM TILLIS IS ENTANGLED IN A CAMPAIGN MONEY SCANDAL. WHAT SHOULD HE HAVE KNOWN?: Such straw-man schemes are a violation of campaign finance laws, which prohibit individuals or companies from getting around contribution limits by repaying others to donate instead. DeJoy denied doing so in U.S. House testimony last month, calling it an “outrageous lie.” He needs to respond to his former HR director’s on-the-record accusation. One of the big beneficiaries of the questionable fundraising? Thom Tillis, now running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. According to the Times, 20 midlevel and senior officials at New Breed donated a total of $37,600 to the Tillis campaign on the same day in October 2014. What might be more of a red flag, Ryan says, would be large contributions from employees whose listed occupation generally has a salary that wouldn’t allow for big donations. The Post report cited “several non-executive employees who gave substantial political donations.” Tillis and his campaign should address whether it received such contributions and what it intends to do about them. Perhaps more concerning is the senator’s apparent reluctance to criticize his benefactor for postal delays that have resulted from DeJoy’s draconian measures to cut USPS costs. Both Democrats and Republicans - including and especially Thom Tillis - should call for DeJoy to explain the troubling contributions. If he is unable to do so, he should resign.

EXPEDIENCY OVERRIDES INTEGRITY IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: If this were a rare exception – quick action required by an unanticipated emergency and deadline – that would be one thing. But this process – taking a bill passed by one chamber; wholesale substituting its original intent for something else to short-circuit the process -- has become standard operating procedure for the current leadership. It abuses legislators’ votes and makes their representation a sham. Just as bad, it denies legislators and those they represent a full hearing and understanding when they are asked to act. While there was some urgency to act – mostly because Republicans in the U.S. Senate refused to take up any federal relief legislation even months after a bill had been passed by the House of Representatives – there was more than enough time to give the bill along with the spending plan Cooper proposed -- a thorough hearing. It should have been subject to the scrutiny of House and Senate committees and been given ample debate in the full House and Senate. We’re talking just a couple of days here. Why opt for sunshine when subterfuge is so much more efficient? Why be accountable for proposals that should withstand public scrutiny – or maybe even be improved during an open discussion and exchange of opinions?

THERE IS NO VACCINE FOR OUR DEEPER NATIONAL SICKNESS: As I scan Trump’s tweets, speeches and public ruminations, the thought occurs to me that this must be what it would have been like had former Alabama governor George Corley Wallace Jr. won the presidency in 1968. Read Wallace’s rhetorical choices during the ’68 campaign and you will quickly learn that Trump has been channeling him. Wallace sought the presidency at a tumultuous time of protest, civic unrest over deeply rooted racism and the Vietnam War. With his “Stand Up for America” slogan, he played to the growing White backlash against the marches and acts of civil disobedience. Backlash is also the heart and soul of Trump’s campaign war against “anarchists” and the media. Hear Wallace in a 1968 Toledo speech, captured in an essay by Marianne Worthington of Cumberland College: “I want to say that anarchists — and I am talking about newsmen sometimes — I want to say — I want to make that announcement to you because we regard that the people of this country are sick and tired of, and they are gonna get rid of you — anarchists.” Hear Trump in May in Florida as he cast blame for urban protests on “radical-left anarchists,” and charged that the media “is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy.” Wallace in a Tennessee speech: “You elect me the president, and I go to California or I come to Tennessee, and if a group of anarchists lay down in front of my automobile, it’s gonna be the last one they ever gonna want to lay down in front of!” And Trump calling “GREAT PATRIOTS” those driving through downtown Portland, Ore., firing paintball and pellet guns at protesters. See Wallace, making his stand for segregation in a schoolhouse door. See Trump, standing outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, holding up a Bible and pretending to be a protector of the faith — even as he left America unprotected against the coronavirus. Purveyors of lies and a mean-spirited “us-against-them” virus for which, sadly, there is no vaccine. I’ll work to my last breath to find one.

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S INSECURITIES: Fresh off his win in 2016, he was eager to come talk to The New York Times. I’ve never seen Trump happier than in that hour with the “failing” New York Times. (He even got to upbraid me in front of my boss.) As we wrapped up, he told the assembled editors, reporters and Times brass: “It’s a great honor. I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along.” That same eager tone was echoed in the audio of Bob Woodward’s tapes with Trump, as the president warmly spoke the name “Bob” again and again, yearning for acceptance from the very establishment that he had denounced to win the Oval Office. Even though Woodward keeps writing books about Trump with titles that sound like Hitchcock horror flicks — first “Fear” and now “Rage” — Trump somehow thought he could win over the pillar of the Washington establishment. Trump is his own whistle-blower. As The Times’s Nick Confessore put it on MSNBC: “Trump is the first candidate for president to launch an October surprise against himself. It’s as if Nixon sent the Nixon tapes to Woodward in an envelope by FedEx.” Trump fiends for legitimacy even as he undercuts any chance of being seen as legitimate. He is fact-based and cogent on the Woodward tape talking in early February about how the coronavirus is airborne and deadly and dangerous for young people. But he vitiated that by publicly downplaying the vital information for his own political advantage. He may be ludicrously un-self-aware, but even he sensed that his tango with Woodward would end badly. It was fun for a while, bro-ing out in the Oval with his fellow septuagenarian big shot, batting around the finer points of white privilege. But it could not last. “You’re probably going to screw me,” the president told the writer. “You know, because that’s the way it goes.” Even so, the unreflective Narcissus will never drag himself away from his reflecting pool. You know, because that’s the way it goes.


LYNN ANDREWS: TILLIS STAFFER SPOKE ACCURATELY FOR THE SENATOR: Sen. Thom Tillis has apologized for a staffer’s response to a cancer patient who called his office with fears about losing her health insurance. The staffer compared her predicament to his being unable to afford a new dress shirt he wanted and said she needed to “figure it out.“ The staffer was simply putting into words Tillis’ abject failure to do anything about the health care crisis facing North Carolinians. When Tillis was in the N.C. legislature he led the effort against expanding Medicaid. That allowed our tax dollars to go to other states and left thousands without access to basic medical care. While in the U.S. Senate, he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Tillis’ staffers should not be reprimanded for accurately representing his longstanding position of denying health care to desperate constituents. North Carolina deserves better than Tillis.

STEPHEN DOVENITZ: TRUMP HAS ABANDONED THE PEOPLE OF BELARUS: The so-called leader of the free world has been silent on the democratic efforts of the people of Belarus. It may be that he recognizes that he has no moral authority, having cozied up to tyrants like the leader of Saudi Arabia, like Putin, Abdel el-Sisi in Egypt, Narendra Modi in India, and ignored the unbelievably brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But the U.S. has some residual moral authority from the days when our nation sometimes supported the democratic strivings of people of other nations. That authority, the wealth and free press of the U.S. (and the weaponry we peddle through the world) give our nation some weight to throw around, and some of that weight should be in support of the democratic efforts of the people of Belarus.

(COL) JOHN BOOTH: TRUMP IS AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO OUR NATION: As a former life-long Republican, I’ve concluded the Republican Party is no longer the party of national security. I speak as a retired Marine colonel with 33 years of active and reserve service. I am one of Donald Trump’s “suckers.” I fought in Vietnam and was mobilized during the first Persian Gulf War. The estrangement from the Republican Party started with the George W. Bush administration. One thing I’ve learned is that we can’t kill our way to victory. American influence around the globe is a combination of our military power, economic prowess, and the esteem in which we’re held by fellow nations. Trump is an existential threat to our nation. He is ignorant on many issues and refuses to learn. His bullying, disrespect and dishonesty are unconscionable. The GOP should be banished to the hinterlands for keeping silent. The Democratic Party is far from perfect in the arena of national security, but the party and its candidates are the far better alternative.