34 Is The Loneliest Number

I couldn’t get out of the way of the tsunami of alerts that hit just after lunch yesterday afternoon.  To top it all off, I was yet again battling crippling migraines that I needed to double down on over-the-counter and quickly refilled prescription meds just to even be able to stay focused enough to see what so many insist was historic breaking news.

At long last, justice had been served.  The many descriptions that could be applied to one Donald J. Trump, proud Queens native that he may or may not be, just had a new one added to that list:  Convicted Felon.  On no less than 34 out of 34 counts.  The typically down-the-middle CBS News unveiled these results with a refreshed graphic look that rivaled those of many of the more partisan rivals they compete with.  With bold, red-on-white graphics, the word GUILTY was unveiled for each count, in real time, with a sidebar narrative direct from the courtroom apparently being supplied by a correspondent texting directly into a live blog.  They even supplied graphics with the layout of the courtroom and the faces of those involved, save for the jurors.  Maybe if they had thought of that workaround sooner we might have paid more attention to the actual trial.

In more normal times, this would have been cause for celebration and indeed, an awful lot of people attempted to.  The meme “34 is now my favorite number” was trending.  “No one is above the law” was the byword from the Biden camp.  CBS NEWS’ Melissa Quinn quoted the man who brought the case against Trump, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, lauded the process and the participants.  “(The) only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken.

Even America’s newest political expert Robert DeNiro, fresh off his surprise appearance earlier this week calling Trump a tyrant and getting into shouting matches with MAGA supporters who brought in reinforcements in advance of the impending verdict, felt obligated to weigh in.  DEADLINE’s Lynette Rice wrote:

(T)he actor told Variety how “this never should have gotten to this stage. I don’t want to be talking, but I am so upset by it. I have to say something. This is my country. This guy wants to destroy it. Period. He’s crazy…(J)ustice was served.

But these are anything but normal times.  And if millions of people can continue to disbelieve the results of a fair and free election years after it was repeatedly concluded that Joe Biden was, both by popular vote and the electoral college, a legitimate winner, far be it for anyone rational to expect that something as minor as this would be taken any more seriously.

The Trump reaction exiting the courtroom was more of the same verbiage, almost to the word.  AL.com reported the transcript of his extemporaneous remarks, but you’ve already heard or read them many times before:

This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt. It’s a rigged trial. A disgrace.

“They wouldn’t give us a venue change. We were at 5% or 6% in this district, in this area. This was a rigged, disgraceful trial.

“The real verdict is gonna be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here today. Everybody knows what happened here.

And so on and so forth.

And those that see Trump as Cyrus, or at least their choice to the lead the free world at the moment, were reignited by this.  Allan Smith and Bianca Seward detailed the specific talking points that serve as igniters:

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is in the running to be Trump’s running mate, said on X that the trial was “conducted by an openly pro-Biden judge,” while Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a Newsmax interview Thursday that Merchan “should have worn a Biden campaign hat while he sat on the bench.”

“12 liberal jurors don’t decide who the next president is,” Republican Rep. Jim Banks, the Trump-endorsed Senate candidate in Indiana, posted on X. “We the people do”.

“We just witnessed the most egregious example of election interference and an outright mockery of the rule of law in the 246-year history of our Republic,” Kari Lake, the Trump-backed Senate candidate in Arizona, said in a statement. “This entire process right down to the verdict itself has been nothing but a shameful political stunt.”

And Nicole Russell weighed in with her own thoughts:

Conservatives who love Trump saw this coming. They were upset he got indicted in the first place, and a guilty verdict has now raised Trump to martyrdom status.  This doesn’t mean he actually is a martyr. He’s not in any sense of the political term. But to Republicans who think Trump is God and MAGA is their religion, a guilty verdict now means they’d rather roast on hot coals all day and crawl to a voting booth 30 seconds before closing than not cast a vote for Trump on Election Day.

These summations and thoughts are not coming from right-wing outlets.  They are respectively coming from NBC NEWS and USA TODAY.

And DeNiro, it should be noted, delivered his thoughts while promoting a poorly received film he is starring in, EZRA, that just happens to be opening today at a theatre near (or maybe not so near) you.

And if you needed any more reminding that despite Bragg’s insistence the legal system was validated, check out the story the ASSOCIATED PRESS’ Mark Roberts dropped just moments before the news in New York broke:

Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday declined an invitation to meet with Democratic senators to talk about Supreme Court ethics and the controversy over flags that flew outside homes owned by Justice Samuel Alito.

Roberts’ response came in a letter to the senators a day after Alito separately wrote them and House members to reject their demands that he recuse himself from major Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 rioters because of the flags, which are like those carried by rioters at the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

And as it turns out, even what was initially believed to be the unpredecentedly historic outcomes from the verdicts were given new context in the wake of reports such as those from the BUSINESS INSIDER troika of Chris Panella,Taylor Berman and Brent D. Griffiths:

Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill, said: “If he happens to be in prison at the time of the next presidential election, the fact that he’s in prison will not prevent him from running.”

Running for president from jail isn’t exactly unprecedented — it’s been done twice before. Though, to be clear, neither candidate was anywhere near Trump’s level.

In 1920, Socialist Eugene V. Debs ran for the Oval Office from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, where he was known as “prisoner 9653,” according to Smithsonian Magazine. Debs was a so-called “radical” at the time, decrying capitalism and the World War I draft. The latter got him locked up, but Debs earned plenty of supporters during his imprisonment.  Over 70 years later, another convicted candidate ran for the president from jail: political fringe and conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche. LaRouche was no stranger to campaigning — he ran in every election from 1976 to 2004 — but his 1992 campaign from federal prison garnered particular attention.

To be fair, Debs and LaRouche were fringe candidates.  But people did vote for both of them.  And per the Miami Herald’s Max Greenwood and Alexandra Glorioso, Trump’s at least likely to get one additional vote beyond the ones pledged to him by those who rose up in protest last night:

Former President Donald Trump may officially be a convicted felon, but he’ll still likely be able to vote for himself in Florida this November. While Florida law bars people convicted of most felonies from voting until they’ve fulfilled all terms of their sentence, Trump, a lifelong New Yorker who changed his residency to Florida in 2019, was convicted Thursday in his former home state.

And while I discussed all of this the other night when I hob-nobbed with some high-level Democrats from Alabama and California, here’s what was most striking to me.  They respect Joe Biden.  They personally like Joe Biden.  But they don’t LOOOOOOOVE Joe Biden.  Instead, they are laser-focused on issues like abortion. which they believe will somehow trump–pun intended–all else, at least in the mind of suburban women.

There’s one right now.   Wanna walk that back?

There needs to be more in line with DeNiro willing to step into the mud pit and tangle with the zealots.  And not just people shilling a mediocre movie.  They need to show, at least on the surface, as much love and respect for Biden as those who unabashedly support Trump do.

If and when that happens, I hope the breaking news graphics will be at least as compelling.

Until next time…

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