Elizabeth Drew is a regular contributor to The New York Review. She is the author of fourteen books, including Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall, which was expanded and reissued in 2014. (March 2017)
Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy
by David Daley
Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy is a sobering and convincing account of how the Republicans figured out the way to gain power in the state legislatures and, as a consequence, in the federal government through an unprecedented national effort of partisan redistricting.
In Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton needed not a makeover but a stripping away of the layers of self-protectiveness and caution. Throughout the week, the momentousness of the history being made competed with the Clinton campaign’s quite evident strategic goals. But then, when the first woman presidential candidate appeared on the stage to claim the nomination, the importance of that moment was impossible to dismiss.
Disturbingly early in the Trump administration a great many Americans didn’t know if they could believe the president of the United States. The compulsive lying by Trump and those who spoke for him threatened to undermine his ability to govern. And then there are the not-exactly-lies but Trump’s strange versions of reality that he seems to believe: such as when he insists that the sun was shining during his inaugural speech, which it wasn’t; and this is an easily checkable fact. Could we believe him in the event of an international crisis—or know if it was indeed a crisis?
All American elections tend to be touted as historic, for all American culture tends toward the condition of hype. Flummoxing, then, to be confronted with a struggle for political power in which, for once, all is at stake. We have long since forfeited the words to confront it, rendering superlatives threadbare, impotent.
The near-total failure of our political institutions to invest for the future, eschewing what doesn’t yield the quick payoff, political and physical, has left us with hopelessly clogged traffic, at risk of being on a bridge that collapses, or on a train that flies off defective rails, or with rusted pipes carrying our drinking water.
The Republican Congress’s failure in September to pass a resolution disapproving the nuclear agreement with Iran didn’t mean that the deal was safe.* The president won a major victory when its supporters managed to bottle up the resolution disapproving the deal in the Senate, thus protecting him from having …
In much of the astonished comment about the outcome, Trump’s victory has become inflated beyond what it actually is. Despite low turnout, the popular vote was won by Clinton, and it was Gary Johnson and Jill Stein who appear to have cost Clinton critical states in the Electoral College. It’s not a stretch to conclude that, absent the third-party candidates, Clinton would have won the election.
James Comey’s decision to send the letter to Congress suggested that he was putting concern for his own reputation above a fair process, while potentially affecting a presidential campaign in its final days. One can only conclude that his serial acts in the by now wildly inflated case of Clinton’s private email server were those of a man who lacked the courage to stick with his own convictions.
Trump realized his campaign was in danger of humiliating defeat after the Access Hollywood tape. So what to do? Discredit the outcome. According to an NBC-SurveyMonkey poll, 45 percent of Republicans, primed by Trump, might not accept the results of the election. Might that make it all the harder for Clinton to govern? What did he care? Trump was prepared to pull down the temple’s pillars.
Hands down, the nearly two-week span between the first two presidential debates culminated in probably the most disturbing and extraordinary weekend in all of presidential campaign history. What set it all off was the release late Friday afternoon, via The Washington Post, of a tape, mainly audio, of the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States bragging about how he sexually assaulted women.