Randy Turner Gets It Wrong

A local writer and aggregator named Randy Turner recently published a piece of commentary on his website, The Turner Report. He titled it,

If Donald Trump is elected, it won’t be the end of the world

After seeing that title, one would expect that Mr. Turner, a former Middle School teacher, would give us his specific reasons for claiming that a President Trump won’t, accidentally or otherwise, cause the end of civilization. I, for one, would like to be reassured. But Turner didn’t do that. Instead, after a lengthy accounting of a teaching experience he had during the presidential election cycle of 2000 (and a few notes about candidates in other elections), he offered us this:

Now that I think of it, every four years comes around and we end up with two people that we wonder how they ever wound up as their party’s presidential nominees.

Huh? Is everyone who pretends to write objectively about politics prone to promoting this false equivalence nonsense? I grant Turner that a lot of people were, and still are, scratching their heads in wonder at how Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. He stumbled out of Trump Tower and shocked nearly everyone. But Hillary Clinton was expected to be her party’s nominee. There was very little doubt about it from the beginning of the process. And although Bernie Sanders put up a good fight, she won convincingly and put on one hell of a convention and, as we saw during the debate the other night, demonstrated why she is where she is. What Turner says is infected with the fashionable notion that Clinton and Trump are equally repulsive, when clearly they are not.

But that isn’t really my main objection to Turner’s piece. It’s this:

So we end up once more with a choice that is far from perfect, but what can we do about it? Some are talking about staying at home on election day and that is their choice. If those people don’t want to take the time to study the candidates we do have and their stances on various issues and their personal qualities that could either make them great presidents or poor ones, then I would prefer they stayed at home and leave the voting to those who care enough to take the time to study the candidates and the issues.

If we elect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and it doesn’t work out, it won’t be the end of the world. The Republic will survive. In two years, we can make changes at mid-term elections in the House and Senate, and two years later, we will select two more candidates to run for president.

This is very dangerous thinking in 2016. It’s certainly true we have never in the history of American presidential politics picked a perfect president. That isn’t exactly a profound bit of punditry. But to put Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, after what we have witnessed the last 16 months, into the same class of un-perfect candidates is ridiculous. And to make this a we-can-fix-it-later-if-we-have-to election grossly understates the perils involved.

This isn’t a contest we can take so damned lightly. The fact that Turner felt it necessary to call his piece, “If Donald Trump is elected, it won’t be the end of the world,” should have told him something. And what it should have told him is that a lot of people, especially people in the foreign policy and national security establishment, are scared to death of what might happen if an obviously unqualified and temperamentally unstable man with a fondness for Russian thugs gets in touch with real power.

A voter’s job in this election is not, as Turner suggests, deciding whether Clinton or Trump will make a “great” president or a “poor” one, in terms of how history might judge either in the future. The job in this utterly unique case is to make reasonably sure there is a future in which historians can make such judgments! The voter’s job is, and has been since June of last year, deciding whether an unstable reality TV star is a man Image result for trump and clinton debateAmericans should trust with the world’s most powerful military and nuclear arsenal, with weapons that could very well mean the end of the world, at least as we know it today. And unless Turner has some evidence that the cartoonish con man we have been watching for over a year now will somehow transform himself into a stable, steady, solicitous president, he should spare us the “there’s always the next election” nicety and stop trying to convince voters that they are not making an existential decision. With Trump in the race, that’s exactly what they are doing.

And speaking of the world as we know it today, that 2000 election Turner references in his accounting of his Middle School teaching experience is the perfect example of why he is wrong to so casually assert that we can, when the next election comes around, “make changes” that will, presumably, mitigate the damage done. The damage done to the world by George W. Bush’s Iraq war wasn’t undone in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, or 2014. And it won’t be undone in 2016. The decisions President Bush made changed the world in ways that cannot be fixed anytime soon, if ever. And those world-altering decisions were made by a mentally stable man.

We cannot afford to think that this current election is like any other we have ever seen in our history. We cannot afford to think that our choice is between two imperfect candidates whose personal flaws are roughly the same. On one side we have a woman with unquestionable knowledge, extraordinary experience in government, and a steady temperament. On the other side we have a man who knows nothing about world affairs, who claims he knows how government works because he purchases corrupt politicians, and who has an ego so fragile he can be provoked by an insult on Morning Joe. We cannot afford to think that a President Trump’s mistakes—and we know all presidents make mistakes—can be fixed in two years or four.

Will a President Trump end the world as we know it? That we even have to ask the question tells you all you need to know about the existential nature of this election.

[Image: Timothy A. Clary, Getty Images]




  1. Anonymous

     /  September 28, 2016

    Turner is a good journalist, but he screwed the pooch on this one. It would seem he and some commenters think Trump wouldn’t have the authority to release nuclear missiles without possible military or congressional oversight. If that occurred, the world, as we know it, would end.

    Dallas Morning News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Arizona Republic, and other newspapers call Trump unfit for office and endorse Clinton, a Democrat, for the first time in over 100 years. The Turner Report says,
    “It’s all good” we can chill til the next election.


    • Those newspaper endorsements you mention may not sway readers of those particular papers, but collectively they say something about the awfulness of Trump, which may sway some still undecided because they loathe both candidates. And I must say that for a newspaper man, Turner seems to have not noticed just how comprehensive the assault, by editorial boards not inclined to support Democrats, on an obviously unqualified candidate. He acts like people just need to not only chill out, but to seriously examine Trump’s policy positions, as if there is something substantive there to examine, or as if his policy positions won’t change in 45 minutes. And he acts like people need to take a further look at his personal traits, like we don’t have enough evidence already to make a judgment about that. It really was a strange article.


  2. Trump really is on a level lower than all previous presidents and candidates, lower in temperament, government experience, and in knowledge. Way lower. Not even in the same ballpark. I was wishing in the debate that Holt would ask some questions that required some specific knowledge of law, government process, or of the Constitution. Something like, for instance, “What is your opinion of the recent SCOTUS decision regarding the voting rights act of 1965 relative to your understanding of the 15th amendment.” I’m guessing Trump wouldn’t have a clue. The average voter probably wouldn’t either, but it would be apparent to all that a candidate for president should know such stuff. Even if Trump called it a “gotcha” question, which he would, HRC would jump all over it. But no, the false equivalence meme is to avoid gotcha’s. Unless the subject is really simple, like “How would you handle Aleppo?”


  3. I was a little surprised that voter suppression didn’t come up in some way, Jim. It certainly is an issue that such a large audience needs to hear about. I wish Hillary had brought it up in some way, although I understand there was too much other stuff to get done during that first debate. Lester Holt did as good a job as one could do in that situation, as far as I’m concerned. As you suggest, if he would have asked the excellent question on SCOTUS and voting rights, the next the day the story would have been partly about him, not the dumb answer that Trump would have inevitably given. As it turned out, Holt was left mostly unscathed by any post-debate criticism, other than what we would have expected coming from the paranoid candidate himself. There really has been no one like him in the history of our politics, at least since 1824. He is obviously disturbing, but even more disturbing for me is the number of people who will follow him off the cliff no matter what he says or does. Those are our fellow citizens, my neighbors and yours, my friends and yours, my relatives and yours. Very depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  September 29, 2016


    Rarely does Turner delve into national politics. Instead, he sticks to local mud slinging of the worst sort. About 95% of his commenters are also “Anonymous” that join in such mud slinging and think it is “good journalism”!! A recent comment herein by yet another “Anonymous” calling me “Asson” is of course typical in the Turner Report. Just read the 22 comments he received on the blog you reference herein. The most recent one is “……as all the bed wetters will find out next year after Trump wins by a landslide this November.” So much for astute “journalism”!!!

    All presidential elections are important and some are critically important, particularly this one. Of course in my view we the people are really faced with terrible choices in this election, the worst slate of candidates in my lifetime. Everyone joining in this blog have decided long ago that Hillary is simply the best choice we have, except me thus far. I am leaning that way, for sure, but still seek a “better way” to cast my vote, despite good rebuttals from Duane to the contrary. For sure I continue to listen to him.

    The really amazing thing to me is how close this election seems to be right now. No doubt Hillary will get a “bump” in polls, post-debate and we will see such early next week. The only question is how big and sustainable that “bump” will be. Recall after the conventions she was nearly 10 points ahead. But …….. Frankly anything less that 10 points ahead for her is too close for comfort. Might America pull a “Brexit” vote and surprise the whole world come Nov 8th?

    Duane suggested that I might be “the only person in the world” that thought both candidates lost the recent debate. I of course said that because in my own opinion neither one won it, convinced me that one of them provided a “good choice” to become our next president. I also suggest there remain several million voters, just like me, deeply conflicted over which choice to make. The last time a third party choice gained at least a measurable position in polls was 1992 and today two third party choices are collectively above 10% today. I am not yet one of those 10%. If a poll choice was “none of the above” I would be in that camp still. Anyone care to guess just how large that group might still be, today.

    That, Duane, is exactly why this election remains close. Hillary and Trump have yet to break the 50% barrier in polling, individually. The real presidential race remains in the low to mid 40’s for either Hillary or Trump. Her real challenge now is to convince some 15-20% of people to vote FOR her. If the election was “today” my guess is Hillary would win about 45% of the vote, Trump around 40% and the rest “wasted votes” on third party choices.

    As you also seem to agree, Duane, the larger the third party vote becomes the greater negative impact on Hillary. Trump is rock solid at 40% or even slightly higher. If the third party vote reaches 15% (1992 level) that still leaves Hillary with a 45% win.

    I suggest that such an electoral return, 40% Trump, 45% Hillary and 15% “neither one of them” reflects a pretty good “mood” of our country. 40% simply “hate the Obama way”, less than 50% support that highly (for America) progressive path and 15% really disgusted with either choice. What America really needs today is a rock solid 55% or so of voting Americans willing to give one side of the other (progressive or conservative) a mandate of sort to continue down some kind of sustainable path.

    Clearly we do not have that opportunity today, the leadership to sustain a mandate for American citizens. Jeb Bush had it right observing to Trump “You cannot insult your way to the Presidency”. One must LEAD the American people to select the one for that office. Claim “foul” all you like but Hillary is failing in that test of leadership so far and thus chaos is upon us.



    • Anonymous

       /  September 29, 2016


      I had to respond to the commenter on the Turner Report that you mentioned regarding bedwetting. Neither of us are journalists and I still am confused as to why you think less of an anonymous comment. I thought of Great Britain in my response. Trump and Brexit both support nationalism, which I think we both know will fail in a global society.

      The oligarchs or fate if you prefer have given us the choice we a face today. Do we do as G.H.W. Bush, John Warner, and numerous other GOP leaders, cabinet members, and intelligence officers and choose Clinton as the only sane choice, or do we look to possible economic collapse as Great Britain has done. Turner’s post that electing Trump couldn’t literally end our world is wrong.


      • British “nationalism,” which conservatives here are all hot about protecting, is really in jeopardy with the Brexit vote, oddly. There is at least the possibility that Scotland and Northern Ireland could vote for independence, if such a vote is eventually allowed. We don’t know. But what we do know is that those seeking to run on nationalist ideas here in America, ought to consider that our “nation” is held together by some common values, some of which the nationalists are rejecting with their xenophobia and bigotry and racism. If those values aren’t honored, how can there be a nation at all? At least one that can live in internal peace.


    • A lot of people blame Donald Trump and the associated “chaos” on Hillary Clinton, which you seem to be doing, Anson. They seem to think of Hillary was a stronger candidate, or we had a different candidate, that things would be different. I completely disagree with that. If, say, Joe Biden were the candidate, do you think your 55% of the electorate would support him? Oh, my, how we forget what the attacks on him have been and certainly would be! You can’t name a Democratic candidate who wouldn’t be facing the same vitriol Hillary is, except I’ll grant you the attacks would be different. They’d likely be more ideological. The only reason we don’t hear how “leftist” she supposedly is is because there isn’t enough bandwidth available for Republicans to attack her in that way. All the air time and ink and keyboard strokes are used on telling us how corrupt she is, except there isn’t any real evidence of corruption. Only innuendo and “smoke.”

      George Will, in his latest column, blamed Donald Trump’s rise on, you guessed it, Hillary and the alleged paucity of Democratic leadership. What utter bullshit that is. But at least he gets how destructive a force Trump is. But he’s seems more worried about Trump destroying “conservatism” than he is worried about him destroying the country.

      Look, I understand how difficult it is for folks like you to see Hillary Clinton as something other than the caricature of her that has been decades in the making. When I was a conservative, I felt the same way about her and even as a liberal I had strong doubts. But we can’t deny what we have seen with her campaign, which is a reflection of how competent someone will operate when governing. It has been damned good, especially considering the political climate. She has made some missteps for sure. But all in all she is utterly organized, prepared, and up to the job of leading the country, even though it is increasingly getting harder to lead. She has absolutely the best people around her, in terms of running a large operation and getting the job of, hopefully, electing her done. Then look at the other side. Chaos, indeed. A disorganized mess, backstabbing, utter incompetence performed by utterly incompetent has-beens or wannabees. He’s on his 3rd campaign manager for God’s sake. His staff is at present arguing whether he has the ability to actually focus and concentrate long enough to make it through half an hour of debate prep! Jesus, Anson.

      I hate to say this, but we both know there will not be a candidate on either side who can get that desirable 55% that I think both of us would like to see. Because of our system of government, which gives those who want to obstruct plenty of opportunity to do so, we will likely see this kind of stuff play out well into the future. All we can do is hope to God it doesn’t devolve into, quite literally, chaos.


      Liked by 1 person

  5. ansonburlingame

     /  September 29, 2016

    More “therapy” for Duane and, surprisingly, a polite comment from “Anonymous. It is hard to distinguish one anonymous from the other however which is exactly why I do not at all like anonymous political comments, particularly when they go personal against people expressing different views. When they get personal, commenting anonymously is like a “cheap shot” in a bar.

    Hillary can indeed “run” the country, no question in my mind. Of course the direction she will run it causes me grave heartache. Trump might well run it right off the tracks as well. I will certainly do my best to not give him the chance to do so. But we don’t need a single man or woman to “run” much at all. Instead we need someone to LEAD our country, something neither Bush ll nor you beloved Obama have done. Of course by LEAD I mean having in hand a sustainable majority of Americans, I pick a low number of 55%, that will stand by a leader through thick and thin and be comfortable in doing so.

    Obama had his chance. American wanted a change after 8 years of Bush ll. But right out of the gate he slammed ACA down the throats of all Americans without a single vote from the GOP. Obama thus, with only the support of Dems ran America straight into a vicious firewall of opposition. After the election of 2010 he has been generally stymied in such further “running” of America despite “executive orders” that would never pass muster in Congress.

    Want another example of Obama’s failure to lead America. It just happened, a congressional override of his veto of legislation allowing private Americans to sue a nation’s government. Crazy, absolutely crazy to unleash the American tort system of civil justice on a country that has no desire whatsoever to follow our civil laws. I doubt that Saudi Arabia will even send a lawyer into any American court to argue their side. They will ignore it and give the finger to anyone trying to collect on any mandates from such a court. Obama was right to try to prevent that, but ……. So much for popular opinion, right.

    Wonder how the American government will react when some Iraqi housewife sues our federal government for blowing up her home?? I suppose Herb would support a similar Iraqi lady suing “us” for torturing her husband a few years ago, as well.

    Sorry for double dipping this time around, Duane. I need my own therapy as well and writing is a great way to self-administer it.



    • Anson,

      Do you realize what you just argued? You are blaming the Saudi bill override on Obama, even though he vetoed the damned thing and warned everyone about what it could lead to. What was he supposed to do? Shoot Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor? Poison Paul Ryan’s food? Man, oh, man. I wish you would take a minute or two to reflect on how strange this all is. What the hell is going on?



  6. ansonburlingame

     /  October 1, 2016


    I supported Obama’s opposition to that bill. I suppose you did as well for obvious reasons.

    So why exactly, did the veto override by a 97-1 vote (in the Senate) happen, led by your future minority (majority maybe) leader for Christ’s sake? Obama had all the legal and foreign policy reasons on his side, yet popular opinion, which Dems rarely try to counter won the day. That is a failure of Presidential leadership, selling the hard but right decisions to the American people. Remember a veto override only happens with a 2/3rd’s vote. For once in his life Harry Reid got it right but of course he is not running for re-election.



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