Saturday, October 10, 2020

Arizona, California, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming

EARLY VOTING BEGINS THIS WEEK (Oct. 11-18) IN THESE STATES: Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington

What did Donald Trump do today?

He held 60% of a rally and broke 100% of a federal law.

Trump spent much of the last few days gradually walking back an overly-ambitious claim that he'd hold a rally in Florida today. Instead, what he held was a White House event at which he addressed a crowd from a balcony at the White House.

The audience wasn't required to wear masks, and were tightly packed in to the available space—although not nearly as tightly as they might have been. 2,000 were invited; about 400 showed up. 

Most of those who did attend were compensated for being there by Candace Owens, the event organizer. Owens is an opportunistic media figure—that's a diplomatic way of putting it—whose income stream mostly relies on stirring up controversy. Before abruptly switching to supporting Trump, after he was elected, she'd attacked the "bat-shit-crazy antics of the Republican Tea Party" that gave rise to his candidacy, and mocked Trump's penis size. Last year, she defended Hitler by saying he wanted to "make Germany great."

Trump's speech was scheduled for 30 minutes. Normally he goes well over his allotted time at rallies. Today, he only lasted 18 minutes.

Trump's use of the White House for an explicitly political event is flatly illegal under the Hatch Act, which prevents executive branch employees from using federal buildings for campaigning. It's the latest in a very long list of actions where Trump has essentially forced White House staff to campaign for him on the taxpayer dime

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents aren't above the law.
  • It's bad if a president either doesn't know or doesn't care that he's helping a con artist who praised Hitler.
  • Not being able to get through half an hour of standing and talking isn't exactly projecting strength.