Election 2024: Day -128

Oh, boy.

Perhaps the best way to summarize Thursday’s first presidential debate is this: Within 24 hours, the New York Times’ editorial board had published an op-ed urging Biden to drop out of the race as soon as possible, to give the Democrats ample time to nominate somebody else.

I watched the first 20 minutes of the debate, before turning over to the Olympic track & field trials in disgust. In what I heard, Trump was coherent and controlled, albeit incredibly mendacious; whereas Biden was occasionally incoherent and nothing like the statesman who had made forceful addresses at this year’s State of the Union and the 80th anniversary of D-Day. It is hard to imagine that Biden’s lethargic performance swayed many votes in his direction, and easy to imagine that it would cause voters to be more sympathetic to Trump.

At the same time, one should not lose sight of the vast number of lies that Trump managed to tell in a 90-minute debate. After the debate Biden said “it’s hard to debate a liar,” which is true. But honestly, I went to bed that night saddened about how far our politics have fallen, that we’re left to choose between a convicted felon who lies continuously and behind whom a once-great political party has completely fallen in line, and a once-great leader whose best days are clearly behind him.

Unless, that is, Biden can be convinced to fall on his sword and withdraw. We’re now 48 hours out from the debate and there’s no real sign as of yet that Biden is seriously considering this. One can hope for a July surprise.

The next morning, SCOTUS did not release its decision in Trump v. U.S., but did announce that Monday will be the final day of the current term, so we should have clarity on the outcome of that case very soon. The Court did release a 5-4 opinion in Fischer v. U.S. that may have some implications for the U.S. v. Trump Jan 6th case, as the decision narrowed the scope of a clause originally found within the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that was used by prosecutors in many of the actions taken against Jan 6th defendants.

We’re now only 5 days away from the UK elections, which are increasingly looking like they just might be to British politics what 1993 was to Canadian politics: the decimation of the mainstream right-of-centre party to the benefit of a further right upstart, all in the context of a landslide win for the main left-of-centre party. Per the Economist, Labour is almost certain to win a majority, and there is some doubt as to who the second-largest party would be, as polling suggests that the Conservatives and the new Reform UK party (hmmm, that name sounds familiar…) are neck-and-neck. The Economist’s current median forecast is for Reform to win only 2 seats versus 106 for the Conservatives; however, Reform’s range of outcomes is 0 – 97, while the Conservatives’ range of outcomes is 27 – 202. Some similar dynamics are at play north of Hadrian’s wall, but between the Scottish National Party (median 23, range 0 – 54) and the Liberal Democrats (median 48, range 17 – 90).

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