Beyond the Debate: Trump Is Running on Empty

Leading The Bulwark…

Beyond the Debate: Trump Is Running on Empty

Richard North Patterson: Instead of ideas, the president offered lies, evasions, and weapons-grade exaggerations.

On the Pods…

Tim Miller on Trump's Bobulinski Gambit

On today's Bulwark Podcast, Tim Miller joins host Charlie Sykes to break down last night's presidential debate and the failed 11th hour Bobulinski gambit.

Closing Argument? What Closing Argument?

Election guru Josh Kraushaar joins B2D to discuss the ragged end game, what to watch on Nov. 3, and the disgrace of orphaned children at the border.


Bill Kristol, Charlies Sykes, Mona Charen, and Sarah Longwell took your questions last night on our post-debate livestream. Tune in if you missed it.

  • The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood: Bill Ryan on The Right Stuff, in All Its Forms

  • The Secret Podcast: Post-debate analysis, a deep-dive on turnout, generational warfare, Shakespeare, Star Trek, Trumpy Catholic priests, and, of course, Rebecca Black.

If you’re not a member of Bulwark+ yet, we’d love it if you would join us! We’ll be doing another livestream next week, and on election night we’re going to doing a marathon livestream from the minute the polls close.

In today’s Bulwark…

HBO vs. Roku

Sonny Bunch: Or, why you're probably one of the 70% of people who can't watch HBO Max. Plus! 'The Witches,' reviewed.

‘Right Stuff’ In Name Only

Bill Ryan: The Disney+ adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s masterpiece is a RINO.

Turkey Is Distancing Itself from NATO

Shay Khatiri: Erdoğan strengthens his autocratic rule and tightens ties with Russia.

Trump Doesn’t Poop Pants; “Wins” Debate

Jonathan V. Last: So, so, so many lies.

Trump’s “Unfair” Closing Argument

Amanda Carpenter: It’s a family matter.


SOMEWHERE ON I-64 IN KENTUCKY: Greetings from the road in rainy Kentucky. We’re halfway back from St. Louis and spending the night in Lexington, Kentucky. There was a time I could drive the 14 hours from St. Louis to D.C. in one fell swoop, but those days were when I was younger and lacking a wife, dog, and kids.

Please forgive the lack of an aggregator section today. Getting two podcasts out the door and packing the car to get on the road, I didn’t have time to update it.

In that same vein, it’s my turn to drive again soon, so today’s OVERTIME will be a little shorter than usual.

Don’t hate on the Tampa Bay Rays. This WSJ op-ed on “Raysball” was a great read, and personally, I am pulling for the Rays.

Leadership in turbulent times…

My former neighbor, Dr. Bill Steiner (a Bulwark contributor!) sent me this very astute analysis, and I asked him if I could share it with you all.

I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s outstanding book, Leadership in Turbulent Times. As you probably know, it is a historical analysis of national crises that four presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson each experienced during their presidencies. In the final chapters detailing each president’s final crisis, Professor Goodwin lists those characteristics and strategies that each president  exhibited and used to defuse the crisis and inspire our country.  Since our current president, Donald Trump, likes to compare himself to the great presidents, most notably, Abraham Lincoln, I thought it would be instructive to make a select list of those characteristics and strategies used by President Lincoln and see how Donald stacks up in his attempt to lead our country through his own crisis, the COVID pandemic.  (I list them in the order presented by Professor Goodwin.)

Acknowledge when failed policies demand a change in direction.

Of course, analysis of this point assumes that Trump has actually implemented a policy. But to the extent that he and the administration had a consistent policy, it has failed miserably. He, of course, has made no acknowledgement of that whatsoever; to wit:  “We are ready to turn the corner.” And when asked directly about the death toll, he expounded “It is what it is.”  

Gather firsthand information, ask questions.

As we well know, Trump detests briefings and having to read anything. As best we can tell, his current information sources are limited to Fox and Friends, QAnon and doctors who have no experience or training whatsoever with infectious disease or public health – calling Dr. Atlas. The only question Trump seems capable of asking is what his latest ratings were. 

Find time and space in which to think

Based on the number of presidential tweets on a daily basis and the length of time he spends calling in to Fox shows, he has no free time. As to his ability to think…………

Anticipate contending viewpoints

In Trump’s world, there are no contending viewpoints. It is a manifestation of his psychological makeup, that he, and only he, has the correct viewpoint. There is no argument to be made for the other side. So there is no reason to anticipate a contrary viewpoint. 

Assume full responsibility for a pivotal decision.

Trump can be routinely expected to claim responsibility when the situation is positive, e.g. climb in the stock market, but he immediately denies responsibility when the situation is not good. Look no further than when asked about the pandemic and he infamously intoned : “I take no responsibility at all”.

Refuse to let past resentments fester; transcend personal vendettas

(I’m sorry, I can’t stop laughing………..)

Set a standard of mutual respect and dignity; control anger

(I’m still laughing)

Shield colleagues from blame

How did that work out for Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and all the other “idiots” who actually respect science?

Keep your word

(Oh, God, I can’t breathe, my sides hurt from laughing so much)

Put ambition for the collective interest above self-interest.

I just realized that I am not laughing, but sobbing uncontrollably.  

What is really laughable is that Donald Trump dare mention his name in the same sentence or even remotely connect himself to Abraham Lincoln. I wish Trump would read Professor Goodwin’s book, but I doubt even Lloyd Christmas could bring himself to say “so you’re saying there’s a chance”.

That’s it for me today, I gotta hop behind the wheel of our rented Dodge minivan and finish out today’s segment of our road trip.

Please have a safe, relaxing weekend, and if you want to reach me, I’m at

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