SAFE TRAVELS

1. It’s Wednesday, November 23, 2016. It’s the day before Thanksgiving.

2. On this date 212 years ago, our 14th president, Franklin Pierce, was born.

As bad a president as he was – to give you a hint, he was a Northerner whose secretary of war was his friend, Jefferson Davis, and who sought appeasement with the South – even he has to be offended in his grave at the thought of Trump in the White House.

3. Hillary Clinton’s popular vote lead surpassed 2 million overnight.

Some of her prominent supporters were aflutter last night after a New York magazine article. The article quotes a group of prominent computer scientists and lawyers as saying that results in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin might have been manipulated or hacked. Those three states swung the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.

Among the supporters who got revved up by this were Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, and Keith Olbermann, who has been breathing fire against Trump in videos for GQ magazine. 

I am among those who would love to believe that this election was stacked against Hillary Clinton. It already had Russian hacking, selective WikiLeaks leaking, media focus on her e-mails and the FBI director’s thumb on the scale. So why wouldn’t it be plausible that somebody cooked the books on the vote totals in three Rust Belt states?

Well, first, there’s the math. Clinton trails Trump by 68,965 votes in Pennsylvania. That seems like a lot. The other two states have smaller margins, and maybe there’s a possibility. But without Pennsylvania, it doesn’t really matter – there aren’t enough electoral votes in Wisconsin and Michigan to sway the outcome.

Secondly, there’s the trend. If you looks at the numbers and the states in a line from Virginia through to Minnesota, you can see a regular streak of Clinton doing much worse than she expected and below what President Obama did when he ran in 2008 and 2012. There’s got to be some political reason for that.

And then there’s the third thing. Hillary Clinton is a patriot. She conceded defeat on Nov. 9, when there was no indication that anything about the election was going to change.

And because she’s a patriot, she knows it would be disruptive – almost to the point of civil war – to make the same kind of accusations of a rigged election that Trump and his supporters were preparing to make. Not unless she had overwhelming evidence – something like Putin, the governors of Michigan and Wisconsin, and some Republican operative in Pennsylvania all confessing at a news conference that yeah, they did it.

Because Hillary Clinton is a better human than Trump, this talk of a hacked election will likely remain that – talk.

4. But that doesn’t mean the 2-million vote margin is trivial.

It is something Clinton supporters need to remind folks every chance they get. The more votes in that margin, the less Trump can claim he has a national mandate to do the kind of damage he seems intent to wreaking.

(This is a point Ezra Klein makes really well on the Vox site this morning.)

The Democrats first need to get out of in-shock mode. They need to organize their sides of Congress – they’ve already picked Chuck Schumer as their Senate leader.

And as much as I think Nancy Pelosi is one of the greatest congressional leaders the Democratic Party has ever had, it might just be time to put somebody else in the leadership role in the House.

I’m not sure it’s Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman who’s challenging Pelosi for the role. But he is younger and comes from one of the places that turned on Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

I frankly would rather see another woman take this spot – I just don’t know who she is. But the Democrats need to reaffirm that they believe some women are born to lead. That while Clinton didn’t break through to the White House, there’s some other woman out there who can.

The congressional changes would be coupled with the new DNC chairman. The Democrats need a fresh face, and I think either Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota or Labor Secretary Thomas Perez fits that bill – although I could see Perez as a potential Senate or presidential candidate. 

With a new team, they need to challenge Trump and the congressional Republicans when they need to be challenged. Especially on things that are core Democratic: Medicare, Social Security, immigration and health care.

Don’t pick fights without a purpose. The demonstrations against Trump and the hand-wringing about the election are already being reflected in a backlash against Democrats.

The guy to follow is the guy we’ve been following: President Obama. There’s a reason his approval is up while the party’s is down, according to a CNN poll out today. It’s what I articulated yesterday: People want this election to be over. It’s clear the president can’t stand Trump, but he’s not whining about it openly.

That’s what Democrats have to do. Act assertively on what they believe. Fight Trump when they must.

And remember which side got the most votes on Nov. 8.

5. Few have suffered as public a defeat as Ralph Branca.

He’s the former Brooklyn Dodger who threw the pitch that Bobby Thomson of the New York Giants socked for the most famous home run in baseball history – the one that gave the Giants the 1951 National League pennant.

But Branca handled that devastating setback with a grace that set an example for everyone in every field.

So much so that today, it’s the other things of his life – his eventual friendship with Thomson, his support of Jackie Robinson during the integration of the Major Leagues and his success off the field – that people are choosing to remember on the day of his passing. 

He was 90 years old, and he’s to be congratulated for living a life well led.

6. The day before Thanksgiving is often referred to as the worst travel day of the year.

In fact, it’s not yet noon and it’s already been tough for me. I scraped up against an SUV in a parking lot for the local cake baker that draws crazy crowds at holidays.

Fortunately, the guy didn’t want to exchange insurance cards or phone numbers. The scrape is minor.

But it was a reminder to me, and now from me to you, to be careful out there. There are a lot of people on the road and their concentration isn’t nearly as focused as mine actually was trying to avoid this guy.

It’s a holiday. You’re supposed to enjoy it. Please do.

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