Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The power of persuasion (and how it may take a lifetime)

Stephanie McCrummen/WaPo has one of the most remarkable political stories you’ll read this year. Here’s a tale about not giving up on red states or those you assume aren’t persuadable:

In rural Georgia, an unlikely rebel against Trumpism

Why didn’t the Republican red wave materialize in the midterms? The life of Cody Johnson offers one answer.

“I don’t want extremists in office,” he said, walking back to his truck. “And I have some small glimmer of hope that maybe things aren’t as screwed up as I think they are.”

And just in time for the holidays!

Biden keeps demonstrating that many months of media coverage portraying him and his WH as inept and flailing were just wrong he is governing successfully

— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) December 22, 2022

Cathy Young/Bulwark:

Putin’s Useful Idiots: Right Wingers Lose It Over Zelensky Visit

The anti-Ukraine right can’t stand America standing as the arsenal of democracy.

The question of why the Trumpian populist right is so consumed with hatred for Ukraine—a hatred that clearly goes beyond concerns about U.S. spending, a very small portion of our military budget, or about the nonexistent involvement of American troops—doesn’t have a simple answer. Partly, it’s simply partisanship: If the libs are for it, we’re against it, and the more offensively the better. (And if the pre-Trump Republican establishment is also for it, then we’re even more against it.) Partly, it’s the belief that Ukrainian democracy is a Biden/Obama/Hillary Clinton/”Deep State” project, all the more suspect because it’s related to Trump’s first impeachment. Partly, it’s the “national conservative” distaste for liberalism—not only in its American progressive iteration, but in the more fundamental sense that includes conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher: the outlook based on individual freedom and personal autonomy, equality before the law, limited government, and an international order rooted in those values. Many NatCons are far more sympathetic to Russia’s crusade against secular liberalism than to Ukraine’s desire for integration into liberal, secular Europe.

Whatever the reason, the anti-Ukraine animus on the right is quite real and widespread.

Remember, Zelenskyy is an actor. Instead of a suit and tie for his White House visit, he's wearing an army fatigue colored sweater and cargo pants. The costume just hits better when you're in the middle of a multi-billion-dollar shakedown of American taxpayers.

— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) December 21, 2022

Looks like Twitter needs this explained: “Zelensky has continued to wear the green uniform as a commander-in-chief in solidarity with his soldiers who are risking their lives on the frontline. It is not intended to disrespect any audience or institution”

— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) December 22, 2022

Ron Brownstein/CNN:

The 5 ‘known unknowns’ that will define 2024

The powerful evidence for a possible criminal case that the bipartisan January 6, 2021, congressional committee presented against former President Donald Trump on Monday underscores the biggest uncertainty looming over the approaching 2024 presidential campaign.

Many factors that will shape the 2024 contest, of course, remain impossible to know almost two years before the voting. But it is possible with greater confidence to identify the questions whose eventual answers will exert the most impact on the result.

During the Iraq War in 2002, Donald Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, coined a famous phrase to describe exactly that kind of situation. Rumsfeld puckishly described a circumstance in which we do not know the answer to a question, but we do know that the answer will matter to the outcome, as a “known unknown.”

How the GOP received Zelensky: ~Don Jr.: “Zelensky is basically an ungrateful international welfare queen.” ~86 of 213 GOP House members showed up for his speech ~Gaetz and Boebert blew off Capitol Police+refused to go through security for speech via @TPM

— David Kurtz (@TPM_dk) December 22, 2022

Dan Kennedy/blog:

Why did a House committee release Trump’s tax returns? Because it could.

Yeah, it’s a short piece but it’s a good question. They were entitled to the tax returns, and they are entitled to use it for legislative purposes. But why release it to the public?

Is it all politics or is there a greater good? By the way, I’m fine with it, I just like the question.

If you’re really worried about an mRNA vaccine versus the virus, you should stop right now The virus has much more mRNA, uses it harmfully, and puts it all over your organs

— Anthony J Leonardi, PhD, MS (@fitterhappierAJ) December 22, 2022

Sam Brodey/Daily Beast:

The Incredible 37-Page Guide for Staffing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Aides to the Arizona senator were expected to get her groceries, fix her internet, and learn her very specific preferences for airline seats, according to an internal memo.

The 37-page memo is intended as a guide for aides who set the schedule for and personally staff Sinema during her workdays in Washington and Arizona. And while the document is mostly just revealing of Sinema’s exceptionally strong preferences about things like air travel—preferably not on Southwest Airlines, never book her a seat near a bathroom, and absolutely never a middle seat—Sinema’s standards appear to go right up to the line of what Senate ethics rules allow, if not over.

One section of the staffer guide explains that the senator’s executive assistant must contact Sinema at the beginning of the work week in Washington to “ask if she needs groceries,” and copy both the scheduler and chief of staff on the message to “make sure this is accomplished.” It specifies Sinema will reimburse the assistant through CashApp. The memo also dictates that if the internet in Sinema’s private apartment fails, the executive assistant “should call Verizon to schedule a repair” and ensure a staffer is present to let a technician inside the property.

The Senate ethics handbook states that “staff are compensated for the purpose of assisting Senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or other non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others.”

Yeah, I get it. You don’t like her. I don’t, either. But, no question that she’s useful. See WJBF:

Schumer breaks Title 42 spending bill logjam with Sinema’s help

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday morning that he’s reached an agreement with colleagues on amendments to the 4,155-page omnibus so the Senate can pass the bill later in the day and give the House a chance to act Friday.   And it looks like his savior may be independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who on Thursday introduced an amendment to increase border funding and resources for border communities and extend the Title 42 health policy that expedites the deportation of migrants seeking asylum in the United States.  Sinema’s amendment could give political cover to centrist Democrats to vote against a proposal sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to cut funding for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s office unless the Biden administration reinstates the Trump-era Title 42 policy.

Helps AZ, helps her. Helps us. 

Fresh new Arizona numbers! In a three way race Kyrsten Sinema would get just 13% to 41% for Kari Lake and 40% for Ruben Gallego:

— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) December 22, 2022

Speaking of which, you know what media — including the evening news — is doing a terrible job on? Explaining what Title 42 actually is. Well, here’s a rare piece that does, from CBS:

What is Title 42, the COVID border policy used to expel migrants?

What exactly is Title 42, and how has it been used by the current and previous U.S. administrations to expel migrants? Here are the facts.

What is Title 42, and how did it start?

On March, 20, 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, Trump previewed a measure to curb "mass uncontrolled cross-border movement," a move that would ultimately go further in restricting migration than any of his administration's previous hardline border policies.

That day, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield invoked a World War II-era public health law to authorize U.S. border officials to expel migrants. The law, found in Title 42 of the U.S. code, grants the government the "power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property" to stop a contagious disease from spreading in the U.S.

So, if it is rescinded, does that mean there’s no COVID public health emergency (or that the argument against Title 42 is to say so)? Or that maneuvering around immigration law is bad because immigration law is the better way to deal with border issues?

In an unrelated matter, the final Jan 6 report is out. See Brandi Buchman’s summary from last night. Here are some samples:

From Appendix 1

— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 23, 2022

And more:

Cmte: “The most senior DOJ officials at the end of President Trump’s term stopped him from co-opting America’s leading law enforcement agency for his own corrupt purposes.”

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) December 23, 2022

Rick Hasen/Election Law Blog:

My Reflections on the Release of the January 6 Committee Report on Trump’s Attempted Election Subversion and the Expected Passage This Week of Electoral Count Act Reform: Gratitude, Awe, and Partial Relief

The report is careful, lawyerly, and fact-based, and the picture it paints is damning of those, beginning with the former President, who were willing to manipulate legal theories and engage in baldfaced lies about voter fraud in an attempt to steal a presidential election. Even though most of the information in the first 5 chapters of the report was familiar to someone who has been following this closely, the set of narratives makes an unmistakeable record for history of unprecedented treachery and sedition. This is true whether or not criminal charges are brought and convictions obtained. There are strong reasons to prosecute the former President, and as I argued in the New York Times, the risk of not prosecuting Trump is greater than the risk of prosecuting him.

There was some new information to me, such as the fact that former professor John Eastman, who advanced wrong and dangerous theories about the Vice President’s powers to throw out electoral college votes, changed his views when politically expedient:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The 10 year remembrance of Sandy Hook is still painful and raw

Colin McEnroe/Stamford Advocate:

Sandy Hook grief almost too big, and too sad to ponder

I hate this so much.

You could take this whole miserable anniversary and push it off the highest cliff and into the darkest air, as far as I’m concerned.

But if you did, it would come wafting back up through the black night and land at your feet. There is no getting rid of a thing like this.

Colin speaks for many of us here in Newtown. I’ll cover this today so that I don’t have to cover it on Wednesday, 12/14/22, the 10th anniversary.

Huge announcement coming Tuesday from the Secretary of Energy. I’m hearing from a solid source that it’s a major breakthrough on FUSION. This is the holy grail of sustainable, abundant, clean energy — basically the power of the sun on Earth. 10am news conference in DC 12/13/22

— Brendan Keefe (@BrendanKeefe) December 12, 2022

Natasha Korecki/NBC News:

Republicans struggle in the Southwest as Latino voters stick with Democrats

“The GOP could potentially lose the Southwest for decades to come" if it doesn't take a different tack with Latinos, one independent pollster in the region said.

The Southwest was once deep-red territory. But Republicans are struggling to regain their grip. It's in part because they've alienated Latinos by taking more hardline stances, including on immigration, according to Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic strategist who was part of the party’s early team that helped develop modern strategies for reaching Latino voters. Rosenberg said the Southwest today is a far cry from what it once was under former President George W. Bush.

“This was once hostile terrain for us,” Rosenberg said. “Over the last 20 years, the Republican position has significantly deteriorated in the Southwest. And that’s indisputable.”

Just left Sams Club in Joplin, Mo

— Scott R (@Toploader21120R) December 9, 2022

Thanks, Brandon.

GPB News:

A look at the data behind Herschel Walker's defeat

A full and complete picture of who showed up — or didn't — and where won't come until counties finish updating the voter history file that tracks who was credited for voting and if they voted on runoff election day or early. But a look at the county-level results from Tuesday's runoff sheds light on how Walker became the only statewide Republican candidate to lose in the midterm election.

The record-setting early in-person vote saw Warnock open up a nearly 270,000 vote lead before Dec. 6, a total that ballooned to more than 321,000 when you include mail-in absentee ballots. That margin held even as an equally record-setting election day saw 1.6 million people cast ballots, which Walker won by nearly 225,000 votes.

As you can see in the chart below, Warnock ran up the in-person early voting score in urban, Democrat-heavy counties like Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton, but also won the in-person early vote in suburban Fayette County (which narrowly voted for Walker) and four other Republican counties in middle and Southwest Georgia.

Brian Rosenwald/Substack:

Kyrsten Sinema left the Democratic Party. What it means and why it happened.

My take on Friday's bombshell.

Why did this happen?

This won’t be popular with some people, but the left has treated Sinema shabbily. Her willingness to poke the base in the eye has made her enemy number one — despite basically being a fairly conventional liberal and one who actually achieves stuff at that. She’s pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ rights, voted to convict Donald Trump in two impeachment trials, votes for President Biden’s judges, supports universal paid leave, and on down the list. She’s voted with Biden 93.1 percent of the time — more than fellow moderates Jon Tester (D-MT), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), both Democratic senators from Nevada (Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto) and left-wing independent Bernie Sanders. And there is a chasm of 25 points between how often Sinema votes with Biden and any Republican.

She also was a crucial player in negotiating not only a bipartisan infrastructure deal, but also the first meaningful gun control bill passed in two decades, and the Respect for Marriage Act, a historic civil rights achievement. She’s even trying to negotiate a bipartisan immigration bill right now, which if it passes would be a massive win given that the Senate has tried and failed to address immigration for 16 years now.

I tweeted out yesterday that I thought Sinema still had a reasonable shot at re-election … but clearly I was wrong! I should have looked at the data first. These numbers are awful and it’s hard to see a constituency for her re-election

— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) December 10, 2022

Brian Klass/Substack:

Is America Still on the Path to Authoritarianism?

The worst election deniers were defeated in the midterms. Trump is calling to terminate the Constitution. Is America heading toward authoritarianism? If so, can the trend be reversed in time?

So, where does that leave us? Is American democracy saved? Is our long national flirtation with authoritarianism over?

I’m afraid I must disappoint you. We’re still in serious trouble—and the specter of authoritarianism will continue to loom large for many years to come. Many of you already know this. But I want to walk through the arguments behind that claim, so we can better understand the threat and learn how to combat it. And I promise that before I end this post, I’ll explain why there’s room for optimism and hope.

But first, let’s understand the scale and scope of the authoritarian threat in America.

Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way/Foreign Affairs:

America’s Coming Age of Instability

Why Constitutional Crises and Political Violence Could Soon Be the Norm

One year into Biden’s presidency, however, the threat to American democracy has not receded. Although U.S. democratic institutions survived the Trump presidency, they were badly weakened. The Republican Party, moreover, has radicalized into an extremist, antidemocratic force that imperils the U.S. constitutional order. The United States isn’t headed toward Russian- or Hungarian-style autocracy, as some analysts have warned, but something else: a period of protracted regime instability, marked by repeated constitutional crises, heightened political violence, and possibly, periods of authoritarian rule.  

NY Times:

The Prince, the Plot and a Long-Lost Reich

Prince Heinrich XIII was arrested last week as the suspected ringleader of a plan to overthrow the German government. Nostalgic for an imperial past, he embraced far-right conspiracy theories.

The crenelated hunting lodge of Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss sits atop a steep hill, looking out over homes laced with snow and Christmas lights in Bad Lobenstein. Popular with the local mayor and many nearby villagers, the prince spent his weekends in the spa town, giving an aristocratic flair to this sleepy corner of rural eastern Germany.

But there was a darker side to his idyll.

Heinrich XIII, prosecutors and intelligence officials say, also used his lodge to host meetings where he and a band of far-right co-conspirators plotted to overthrow the German government and execute the chancellor. In the basement, the group stored weapons and explosives. In the forest that sloped beneath the lodge, they sometimes held target practice.

Last week the Waidmannsheil lodge, a three-hour drive south of Berlin in the state of Thuringia, was one of 150 targets raided by security forces in one of postwar Germany’s biggest counterterrorist operations. By Friday, 23 members of the cell had been detained across 11 German states and 31 others placed under investigation. The police discovered troves of arms and military equipment as well as a list of 18 politicians and journalists deemed to be enemies.

After Success With the Clintons in 2016, Right Wingers Fail to Spread Their Lies About the Bidens

— Nancy LeTourneau (@Smartypants60) December 10, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The greatest Speaker in our lifetime steps back and stands down

A Twitter thread from my Senator, Chris Murphy, CT:

There's one night I will remember most when thinking about Nancy Pelosi - the night I watched her single handedly save health care for 20 million Americans. It was at the first Democratic caucus meeting after Scott Brown won the special Senate election in Massachusetts.

Many rank-and-file Democrats were in a panic, and they lined up at the microphone to tell Pelosi that it was time for us to give up on the Affordable Care Act. Or chop it up into little pieces - as some in the White House were suggesting. 
I remember it like it was yesterday…
2 months later, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. And today, it's so popular the new Republican Congress won't dare touch it. I had never seen any person do what Pelosi did that night. I've never seen it since. There hasn't been, and will not be, anyone like her. 

Maybe it’s the Affordable Care Act passing because of her, or maybe it’s the honor of being first female Speaker, and/or maybe it’s because she’s so damn good at what she does.

Whatever the reason, she’s not easy to replace. She made running a razor-thin majority look easy. But the next Speaker won’t have it easy at all.

“Pelosi is the strongest congressional leader I’ve ever seen,” says Norm Ornstein, a veteran congressional scholar at the AEI. “Kevin McCarthy is the weakest.” My take on Pelosi's legacy. @NormOrnstein

— Edward Luce (@EdwardGLuce) November 17, 2022

Nicholas Grossman/Arc Digital:

5 Ways the Midterms Were a Win for Democracy

The threat isn't over, but it's better than it could've been

After Trump’s coup attempt failed, Republicans could have shunned it, but instead the party chose to rally around defending—or at least excusing—it, and worked to remove barriers that thwarted it. Most concerningly, a hardcore subset of deniers aimed to get state posts overseeing elections. They won GOP primaries for governor in swing states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona. Eight nominees for secretary of state, the top election administration position, formed the “America First Secretary of State Coalition,” openly promising to overrule voters if they don’t pick Donald Trump in 2024, and justifying it with lies about fraud. One, Arizona Republican nominee Marc Finchem, participated in Jan. 6 and says he’s part of the Oath Keepers, a militia that has seen multiple members convicted of seditious conspiracy for planning and executing the violent assault on Congress.

Every one running in a swing state lost. The only America First Secretary of State candidate to win was Diego Morales in Indiana, a solidly Republican state. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—a Republican who earned MAGA ire by resisting Trump’s demand to “find 11,780 votes” after Biden won the state by 11,779—got reelected by almost 10 points, having defeated an election denier in the Republican primary. Gubernatorial nominees Doug Mastriano (Pennsylvania) and Tudor Dixon (Michigan) got crushed, and supposedly rising star Kari Lake (Arizona) lost a close race against an opponent who refused to debate.

Multi-billionaire & huge GOP donor Ken Griffin, formerly a huge Trump supporter:

— Spiro’s Ghost (@SpiroAgnewGhost) November 16, 2022

David Rothkopf/Daily beast:

GOP Authoritarianism Isn’t Going Away After the Midterms

Yes, many prominent election deniers lost their races, but a disquieting number of them won at both the national and local levels. And the GOP supermajority on the Supreme Court isn’t going anywhere—which means more fundamental rights are threatened, and partisans will have friends in high places should they want to distort election results in the future.

Buyer’s Remorse for Brexit. Just 32% say it was right for the UK to leave the EU in this poll.

— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) November 17, 2022

Thomas E Patterson/Journalist’s Resource:

How the news media – long in thrall to Trump – can cover his new run for president responsibly

"If they are to serve the public interest, journalists cannot apply the ordinary rules for covering candidates," writes media scholar Thomas Patterson. "They are reporting on a politician who regularly defies democratic norms and lies with abandon."

prob too optimistic but i feel like a year and a half of freakshow vs normalcy helps biden (see gop 1996 vs bill clinton)

— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 16, 2022

Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

If Trump Runs Again, Do Not Cover Him the Same Way: A Journalist’s Manifesto

I believed in traditional reporting, but Trump changed me — and it should change the rest of the media too.

I was called the c-word repeatedly. One reader suggested I have my breasts cut off. I tried to let all this nastiness roll off my back and even found it amusing when a Post reader sent me an email calling me a “venomous serpent.” John Schwartz, then a reporter for the New York Times who had become a friend, suggested I treat it as a badge of honor and write a book titled “Memories of a Venomous Serpent.”

Now, six years later, we journalists know a lot more about covering Trump and his supporters. We’ve come a long way, but certainly made plenty of mistakes. Too many times, we acted as his stenographers or megaphones. Too often, we failed to refer to his many falsehoods as lies. It took too long to stop believing that, whenever he calmed down for a moment, he was becoming “presidential.” And it took too long to moderate our instinct to give equal weight to both sides, even when one side was using misinformation for political gain.

.@EconUS/@YouGovAmerica Poll: Who would you rather see as the Republican nominee for president in 2024? Republicans DeSantis 46% (+7) Trump 39% Trump 2020 Voters DeSantis 49% (+11) Trump 38% Conservatives DeSantis 51% (+18) Trump 33% Nov. 13-15, 2022

— Aron Goldman (@ArgoJournal) November 16, 2022

Charlie Sykes/Bulwark:

Will This Time Be Different?

Trump’s third campaign.

Yes, Trump beat the DOJ and his GOP rivals to the punch, and remains the presumptive Republican nominee in 2024. He knows he faces kvetching in the ranks, but he’s seen this before, and Trump is confident that he can reprise the takeover of 2015-16.

But the vibe isn’t the quite the same, is it?

I wonder how the GOP will move the conversation away from Trump if they hold House hearings Investigating the DoJ for: 1. prosecuting the Jan 6 rioters 2. the Trump stolen documents case 3. possible charges related to Trump's attempted coup.

— Arieh Kovler (@ariehkovler) November 17, 2022

Gary Abernathy (staunch conservative and previous Trump defender)/WaPo:

Trump proves that even his base can’t trust him now

Trump voters are understandably confused. Trump is not wrong when he boasts of helping to create DeSantis and Youngkin. They are molded largely in his image. He should be proud of them, not disparaging. They’re his progenies, the natural heirs to the movement he started. His base loves them, considers them their own and thinks Trump should love them, too. After all, he birthed them.

Trump has never been averse to criticizing his fellow Republicans. He deployed an unforgettable mix of insult humor and shock comedy — as well as an unerring sense of what Republicans wanted to hear from their leaders but weren’t — to take down a series of GOP governors and senators in 2015 and 2016.

But attacking DeSantis and Youngkin is different than taking on Jeb Bush. It’s as though Trump suddenly started mocking Don Jr. or Ivanka. If Trump will turn on his proteges, his followers are realizing, he’ll turn on any of his acolytes. Even his base can’t trust him now.

And one of the most useful things about polling is that it's able to record this kind of broad societal realignment on an issue:

— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) November 17, 2022

George Conway/WaPo:

Trump is out for vengeance — and to protect himself from prosecution

Donald Trump craves the power. Even more, he craves the attention. And more than ever — after an unprecedented two impeachments, a humiliating reelection defeat that he can’t even admit, and amid multiple criminal investigations and civil suits — he seeks vengeance. The l’état c’est moi president who apparently tried to sic the IRS on his enemies (and perhaps succeeded), and who tried to extort Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden, can’t wait to get back on the job.

Trump won’t succeed, as his successive losses of the House, Senate, presidency and last week’s midterm results show. Too many Americans would crawl on broken glass to vote against him, no matter who his general election opponent may be. They have seen enough.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: A very satisfying win in the Arizona gubernatorial race

John A Tures/Missouri Independent:

How the GOP’s expected red wave crashed on the rocks of the insurrection

As of the writing of this column, the Democratic Party is likely to lose a fraction of the House seats they were projected (even after gerrymandering), will keep the Senate and is poised to gain in governor mansions.

While some conservatives are crowing about any GOP electoral success, others in the party are becoming aware of the precarious position they are now in. And what’s likely to have contributed to converting the red wave into little more than a ripple was Jan. 6.

The last time Arizona had a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators was 1950.

— Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) November 15, 2022

Richard L Hasan/Slate:

I’ve Been Way More Worried About American Democracy Than I Am Right Now

In all of the swing states, the election denialist candidates lost for governor or secretary of state. In Michigan, Democrats took back control of the state legislature, making state legislative action impossible to try to steal a 2024 election victory for Trump in the state if he loses the vote. Democrats may take control of the state House in Pennsylvania, blocking an avenue there, too.*

Mike Pence is finally, belatedly, speaking out about how Trump endangered him and his family by egging on the rioters who were trying to get him to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for Biden and throw the election to Trump. And now the lame-duck session of Congress is poised on a remarkably bipartisan basis in the Senate to pass a set of reforms to the arcane 1887 Electoral Count Act that Trump tried to exploit to turn his election loss into victory.

How did we make such progress? The same election deniers that pleased Trump and the Republican base repelled enough sane Republicans who oppose stolen elections to hold back their votes. The New York Times reported Monday that Trump had told U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick, running in the Pennsylvania Republican primary, that “If you don’t deny it, you won’t win.” McCormick didn’t deny it, failed to get Trump’s support, and lost the primary to Trump-supported Mehmet Oz by fewer than 1,000 votes. Oz went on to win the Republican primary but lose the general election to Democrat John Fetterman.

Last Tuesday, PA LG John Fetterman became the first Democratic Senator elected from Western Pennsylvania since 1940. He carried Allegheny, his home county, by 28.4% and won 110/120 municipalities. His biggest win was in Braddock - D +88.3% and biggest loss was in Fawn - R +27.33%

— Ben Forstate (@4st8) November 15, 2022

Ben Jacobs/Vox:

Kevin McCarthy is so close to being speaker — and yet, so far

Kevin McCarthy’s bid for speaker of the House, briefly explained.

Tuesday’s initial vote will allow both McCarthy and his critics to put their cards on the table — and allow for nearly two months of wheeling and dealing.

The narrow Republican majority gives McCarthy’s critics a lot of leverage; he needs their votes to become speaker and it gives them the power to make demands of him.

Most of those opposed to McCarthy are in the Freedom Caucus, which will have roughly three dozen members in the next Congress. Their demands largely involve a variety of changes to House procedure that would weaken the speaker and empower rank-and-file members.

Going back to John Boehner’s tenure, rank-and-file right-wingers have griped that establishment Republicans in leadership have ignored them to reach bipartisan deals that have been insufficiently conservative. The dissidents in the Freedom Caucus want to change the rules to prevent this from happening in the future.

The most freighted proposal offered by conservatives is changing the House rules on who can offer a motion to vacate the chair — essentially, who can trigger a vote to remove the speaker and hold elections for a new one.

This is some really good news for Dems.

— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) November 14, 2022

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

Democrats Meddled in Republican Primaries. Good.

The New York Times, plenty of pundits, and even some Democrats clutched their pearls and condemned the practice as unseemly. It wasn’t—and it worked.

In Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, Democrat Hillary Scholten lost in 2020 to Republican Peter Meijer, who broke party ranks and voted to impeach Donald Trump. Merciless Democrats boosted Meijer’s GOP primary opponent, the election denier John Gibbs. With Meijer out of the way this year, Scholten ran again and beat Gibbs by 13 points last week.

Okay, so it worked out this time. But wasn’t it morally wrong? Didn’t it undermine the Democrats’ credibility as defenders of democracy if they were willing to risk election deniers being nominated and elected?

It wasn’t, and it shouldn’t.

Democrats, led by dramatic speeches from Biden and Barack Obama in the campaign’s closing days, made the case that “democracy is on the ballot.” Why? Because there were many Republicans on the ballot who were openly not committed to democracy. Some election deniers tried to scrub their past, such as Blake Masters, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Arizona. During the Republican  primary, Masters said in an ad, “I think Trump won in 2020.” In the general election, he tried to pivot with “Joe Biden is absolutely the president. I mean, my gosh, have you seen the gas prices lately?” This pirouette was a flop. Masters was too extreme for such gymnastics to work.

So was it abortion, Trump or Jan 6 that hurt Republicans? The answer is yes.

“We wonder now if we were in an echo chamber,” says Wendy Rogers.

— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 15, 2022

Sahil Kapur/NBC:

Did Trump hurt Republicans in the 2022 elections? The numbers point to yes

Analysis: Trump loomed large in the minds of voters and dragged down his party’s candidates — nationally and in states with key Senate races, according to exit polls.

Trump loomed large in the minds of voters and dragged down his party’s candidates — nationally and in key swing states with Senate races — despite being out of power. In many cases that blunted the impact of Biden’s unpopularity, and widespread economic pain, helping Democrats defy political gravity and hold their own.

Nationally, 32% of voters in 2022 said their vote was “to oppose Joe Biden.” But 28% said their vote was “to oppose Donald Trump,” even though Trump was out of office. That suggests Trump’s continued dominance over the GOP made the 2022 election, in the minds of voters, almost as much about a defeated former president as it was about the current president and party in power.

“It was a Trump problem,” a Republican operative involved in the 2022 election told NBC News, speaking candidly about the de facto leader of the GOP on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Independents didn’t vote for candidates they viewed as extreme and too closely linked with Donald J. Trump.”

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The quiet vindication of Liz Cheney

But on a deeper level, Cheney’s basic theory about this moment in U.S. and GOP politics, to some degree at least, might be proving correct.

The underlying premise of Cheney’s past year holds that there exists a meaningful sliver of swing voters — including GOP-leaning independents and Republicans alienated by Trump — who could be influenced by a focus on election denialism and MAGA extremism.

In this theory, keeping up a months-long drumbeat of revelations about Trump’s effort to overturn U.S. democracy, while steadily arguing that GOP candidates who play footsie with election denialism are fundamentally unfit for public office, wouldn’t just be civically healthy. It might also have real electoral consequences, even if only on the margins.

It was only then that it dawned on @azgop: maybe taking an opportunistic raccoon who thinks the moon landing was faked and wrapping it in three feet of gauze wasn’t the right choice for this election

— Popehat (@Popehat) November 15, 2022

Benjamin Wallace-Wells/New Yorker:

The Republicans’ Post-Midterm Reckoning with Donald Trump

Will the era of Stop the Steal—and the G.O.P.’s overt challenges to democracy—finally start to recede?
The specific gripe that these Republicans have with Trump is not of a moral or a legal nature. The problem, in their eyes, is that Trump effectively handpicked the candidates who underperformed in some of the country’s most crucial races. Many of these duds had won Trump’s favor for only one reason: fealty to a lie. As Chris Christie put it, “The only animating factor [for Trump] in determining an endorsement is ‘Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen or don’t you?’ ” This loyalty test led Trump to back a huckster doctor (Mehmet Oz, in Pennsylvania); a foggy ex-football star who supported a nationwide ban on abortion yet allegedly pushed former paramours to have the procedure (Herschel Walker, in Georgia); and a young venture capitalist who proved susceptible to dorm-room musings about the wisdom of the Unabomber (Blake Masters, in Arizona). On the morning after the election, Trump reportedly lashed out at people in his circle who he says advised him to back the likes of Oz—including his wife, Melania. What a guy.

.@VaughnHillyard: "Could I say something about Kari Lake, you guys?"

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 15, 2022

Oh, and that announcement?

“Bored, people tried to leave before Trump was even finished speaking. Others simply turned their back to him and talked through his remarks. Keep in mind, these attendees were ostensibly among his most dedicated and connected aides and supporters.”

— Sarah Longwell (@SarahLongwell25) November 16, 2022

Check the coverage:

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Donald Trump launches 3rd bid for presidency amid legal probes, blame for GOP’s underwhelming midterm results.

— Michael Tackett (@tackettdc) November 16, 2022

Trump, who lost the 2020 election and left the White House under the cloud of impeachment for his role in the Jan. 6 riots, has filed to run for president again.

— POLITICO (@politico) November 16, 2022

Home run.

— (@Rschooley) November 16, 2022

BREAKING: Donald Trump, who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election and inspired a deadly riot at the Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep himself in power, has filed to run for president again in 2024.

— NPR (@NPR) November 16, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Student debt relief is not the divisive issue Republicans long for

As we await release of the redacted affidavit by noon today, let’s talk student loans.

The Hill:

Most Americans support student loan forgiveness, poll finds

President Biden on Wednesday announced his administration is forgiving up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 annually and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.
  • A recent national poll conducted by progressive think tank Data for Progress found 60 percent of 1,425 respondents agreed the federal government should eliminate all or some student loan debt for every borrower.
  • The poll found more than half of past student loan borrowers and voters who never borrowed student loans believed some or all student debt should be eliminated.
  • Previous polling, however, showed a much narrower majority of Americans that support the Biden administration’s plans.

One of the White House's highest-engagement tweets ever, and it's only been a few hours. Just by retweets, it ranks within the top 30 tweets from Trump (who also had more than 10x the followers)

— Drew Harwell (@drewharwell) August 26, 2022

with the student loan decision, Biden is continuing a streak of giving many Democratic officials and activists a feeling they're not used to: not being disappointed in him

— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) August 24, 2022

CNN (from May):

Student loan forgiveness divides Americans more by party and age than by education

Americans' attitudes toward student debt relief are sharply divided along partisan and generational lines, polling shows -- with far less of a divide between those who have a college degree and those without one.

By the way, when Mitch McConnell graduated from the U of Louisville in 1964, tuition cost $330 (about $2,800 in today's dollars.) Today, it's up 300%, even when adjusted for inflation.

— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) August 24, 2022

Upshot/NY Times:

After Roe’s End, Women Surged in Signing Up to Vote in Some States

In the first few months of this year, more than half of Kansans who registered to vote were men.

That changed after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

In the week after the court’s decision, more than 70 percent of newly registered voters in Kansas were women, according to an analysis of the state’s registered voter list. An unusually high level of new female registrants persisted all the way until the Kansas primary this month, when a strong Democratic turnout helped defeat a referendum that would have effectively ended abortion rights in the state.

The Kansas figures are the most pronounced example of a broader increase in registration among women since the Dobbs decision, according to an Upshot analysis of 10 states with available voter registration data. On average in the month after Dobbs, 55 percent of newly registered voters in those states were women, according to the analysis, up from just under 50 percent before the decision was leaked in early May.

The most glaring problem w/this ridiculous DOJ memo is if they really thought DOJ should reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed crimes,then thats exactly the kind of thing they shouldve asked Mueller to do. But they were afraid to ask him b/c they were afraid of the answer

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) August 24, 2022

Alexandra Petri/WaPo:

Stop improving things right now! Everyone must suffer as I did!

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thrashing because I have had the nightmare again, the nightmare in which someone else is being spared a small hint of the suffering I endured. The world should not get better! The world should get worse along with me and perish along with me.

Every time anyone’s life improves at all, I personally am insulted. Any time anyone devises a labor-saving device, or passes some kind of weak, soft-hearted law that forecloses the opportunity for a new generation of children to lose fingers in dangerous machinery, I gnash my teeth. This is an affront to everyone who struggled so mightily. To avoid affronting them, we must keep everything just as bad as ever. Put those fingers back into the machines, or our suffering will have been in vain.

Polling by R firm @EchelonInsights shows again the GOP's Trump dilemma. 58% of all voters say if Trump had classified docs it should "disqualify" him from running again. But only 22% of Rs agree; 2/3 say search makes it "more important" to back him. Base rallies as center recoils

— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) August 24, 2022

Nate Cohn/NY Times:

Growing Evidence Against a Republican Wave

Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, it has been increasingly hard to see the once-clear signs of a G.O.P. advantage.

In 15 primaries since the court’s ruling, 52.5 percent of primary voters have cast Republican primary ballots compared with 48 percent in the same states in 2018, according to data compiled by the pollster John Couvillon. The last midterm is used as the point of comparison because of the one-party presidential primary in 2020.

Of course, 2018 was a good year for Democrats. In the end, they won 54 percent of the major party vote and carried the House easily. So they have room to fare quite a bit worse than they did in 2018 and still put up a respectable showing. Indeed, a 4.5-point shift from 2018 would yield a pretty close House national vote, with maybe a slight Republican edge depending on how one looks at uncontested races.

And that 4.5-point Republican overperformance is a little worse for Republicans than earlier in the year. Before Roe, Republicans were running 6.7 points better than in the 2018 primaries in the same states. It’s hard to read a lot into this shift — primaries, again, are very idiosyncratic, with the competitiveness of different races and eligibility rules making a big difference. But the shift, however unreliable, is nonetheless consistent with the broader national story.

The GOP’s Big Tent Might Finally Collapse Now That Roe Is Gone via @thedailybeast

— Matt Lewis (@mattklewis) August 26, 2022

Jonathan Cohn/HuffPost:

We Just Saw A Stunning Special Election Result. What Could It Mean For November?

It’s a long way to November, but the Supreme Court ruling on abortion is already upending the typical midterm dynamic.

Ryan made abortion rights almost the primary focus of his campaign, using the Dobbs decision to paint Republicans as extremists and tying it to broader themes of freedom.

“How can we be a free country if the government tries to control women’s bodies?” he said in a 30-second ad touting his background as a West Point graduate and his service in Iraq. “That’s not the country I fought to defend.”

Ryan also emphasized the importance of making a statement to the nation, telling The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel that ​​“this has to be a national referendum on Roe. It’s our first chance to send this message, that the country is not going to tolerate this erosion of our fundamental rights.”

The message has been sent. But it’s still only August. The future of abortion rights in many states ― and maybe the nation as a whole ― will depend on what happens in the midterm elections.

What, if anything, does this special election result tell us about that?

It’s impossible to be sure. But here are a few possibilities, based on conversations with half a dozen pollsters and analysts.

please stop saying that student loan burden is the result of a conspiracy led by a future supreme court justice 50 years ago and not the result of broad-based (and often popular) reductions in state support over generations

— Prof. Paul Musgrave, Ph.D. (@profmusgrave) August 25, 2022

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

A surprise win for Democrats hints at a big shift for 2022

I asked Ryan if the Democratic Party should full-throatedly argue that electing Democrats is essential to getting abortion rights codified in federal law. He said it should, while suggesting Democrats should link this to “the fight for freedom on multiple fronts,” under an umbrella argument that Republicans will make us “less safe” and “less free.”

Ryan suggested Democrats should also try to reclaim the idea of patriotism. “Patriotism to me means, when your fellow Americans’ rights are being taken away, you stand up and fight, not just for yourself, but for them as well.”

Energy in Democratic areas was critical. The two big Democratic-leaning counties in Tuesday’s election — Ulster and Dutchess — accounted for 42 percent of total votes in the district, up from 36 percent in 2020. As NBC’s Steve Kornacki notes, Democrats “squeezed a lot more votes out of the core Democratic areas,” demonstrating “energy” and “enthusiasm.”

Importantly, Ryan said the “visceral” reaction of voters isn’t just about abortion. While he said inflation and economic pain continue to weigh heavily, he also encountered voter angst about gun violence, ongoing threats to democracy, and the insurrection attempt incited by Donald Trump.

It is the height of elitism to think working people don’t hold student debt. Many “blue collar” workers do. 87% of the relief is going to people earning less than $75k.

— Joshua Holland (@JoshuaHol) August 25, 2022


Trump Revives Impeachment Playbook in Fight Over Documents. It's a Riskier Bet Now

The strategy is similar to how Trump handled the two investigations that led to his being impeached twice. Whereas Trump was able to count on the support of Republicans in the Senate to ensure his acquittal during his impeachment trials, he faces no such protection in the current investigation. The legal system has ways to punish misrepresentations and lies, actions that have often brought Trump rewards in the political arena. And as each new fact is made public on the court docket, Trump may be digging himself into deeper legal jeopardy.

Morning Consult poll: Generic congressional ballot Dems now have a 5-point advantage over Republicans, 47%-42% Last week: 4 points, 46%-42% Two weeks ago: 1 point, 44%-43%

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 25, 2022

If you're worried Biden is buying votes with student loan forgiveness boy do I have some news for you about how politics has worked since the beginning of time everywhere in the world.

— Jeffrey Lazarus (@jlazarus001) August 25, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The search warrant will be released as early as today


FBI searched Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say Attorney General Merrick Garland wouldn’t discuss the search but said he personally signed off on asking a judge to approve it

Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prior to the news:

What if a classified document on U.S. handling of nuclear weapons or names of CIA agents was given or sold by or stolen from an ex-President, who had stashed it in his basement?

— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) August 11, 2022

We don’t know anything more than an incomplete news report.

We need to see the search warrant (and we could as soon as this afternoon).

It is HIGHLY unusual for Jay Bratt, the Chief of the DOJ Counterintelligence & Export Control Section (CES), to sign an unsealing motion--or any motion. It's possible he hasn't signed one since he arrived at CES years ago.

— Brandon Van Grack (@BVanGrack) August 11, 2022

Inclusion of Jay Bratt, Chief of DOJ’s Counterintelligence & Export Control Section, on motion to unseal warrant signifies that national security concerns about classified material at risk animated the grounds for the warrant.

— David Laufman (@DavidLaufmanLaw) August 11, 2022


Florida swing voters: Bring on the search warrants

Florida swing voters in our latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus groups said the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago was justified — and that it would be a "serious crime" if former President Trump did take classified documents from the White House.

Why it matters: Trump's GOP allies are almost universally echoing his unsubstantiated claims of law enforcement overreach or politicization. The aggressive rhetoric may be boosting Trump's base support and fundraising, but it's not cutting through for this mix of Democrats, independents and Republicans who once backed him.

Also prior to the news:

"Short of the nuclear codes being written on these documents," said @DanaPerino earlier today, "I really don't understand how a document could warrant this kind of warrant."

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) August 12, 2022

Uhm…  okay, then.

Stat of the Day: 58% 58% of voters believe that Trump either definitely or probably broke the law, including 59% of Independents, in a new @politico @MorningConsult poll. chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) August 12, 2022

Reposting this because it gets to the heart of the matter:

David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:

The FBI’s Search of Mar-a-Lago Is a Reminder That Trump Has Always Been a National Security Threat

The former president was the most dangerous person in the world when he held power, and he never had respect for the rule of law.

Republican howls of protest in the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida residence were as loud as they were cynical, hypocritical, and irresponsible.

They knew full well that Trump had illegally removed classified documents from the White House—because not only was it acknowledged, but some of the documents were returned. They knew that to conduct such an operation, the FBI had to obtain a warrant from a judge, demonstrate that there was probable cause that a crime was committed, and almost certainly clear a higher bar than usual both within the Department of Justice and in the court because the target of the search was a former president. They were also aware that there was a clear pattern of destruction of records within the Trump administration in its final days and that credible reports suggested that Trump on a regular basis destroyed documents that he by law should have preserved, sometimes by flushing them down the toilet.

It’s amazing how baldly Merrick Garland called Trump’s bluff. For days the GOP is all “release the warrant!” and then the moment DOJ is like, “We’d like to release the warrant,” Trump goes, “Let’s not be hasty!”

— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) August 12, 2022

Jonah Goldberg/The Dispatch:

Yearning for a Banana Republic

Emboldened by fever dreams of persecution, Republicans want nothing more than to anoint a strong man to punish their enemies.

I’ll put it plainly: If your “belief” in our country is so fragile and pathetic that you will lose “hope for our nation” unless Donald Trump is given free reign to cleanse the land of evildoers, then you don’t actually believe in this nation. If your love of country is contingent on your preferred faction being in power, you’ve confused partisanship for patriotism. Taken seriously, all of this banana republic talk is un-American.

I don’t mean it’s a wrong or flawed argument or simply an argument I don’t like—though it is all those things. I mean it is literally an un-American argument because it fundamentally betrays the whole idea of this country. And I’d say this if the claims were made about any politician. Indeed, I did. When Barack Obama’s boosters claimed he would fix our “broken souls” (in Michelle Obama’s words), I spared no effort in denouncing them. When Joe Biden sermonized about how “unity”—under his banner—was the answer to all our problems, I trotted out all my arguments against the “cult of unity,” which constantly threatens our constitutional system of separated powers and divided government.

Presidents are not redeemers, messiahs, incarnations of mystical aspirations, or righteous settlers of seething grievances. They’re not god-kings or the fathers of our American family. They’re politicians elected to do some specific things as the head of one branch of one level of government. They get that job for a limited and defined period of time, and afterward they’re simply citizens.

It’s a source of constant consternation and amazement for me that so many people either don’t understand this or simply pretend not to.

Secret Service watchdog suppressed memo on January 6 texts erasure --@hugolowell

— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 12, 2022

Tim Alberta/Atlantic:

What Comes After the Search Warrant?

Why August 8 may become a new hinge point in U.S. history

So why did I feel nauseous yesterday, watching coverage of the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate?

Because this country is tracking toward a scale of political violence not seen since the Civil War. It’s evident to anyone who spends significant time dwelling in the physical or virtual spaces of the American right. Go to a gun show. Visit a right-wing church. Check out a Trump rally. No matter the venue, the doomsday prophesying is ubiquitous—and scary. Whenever and wherever I’ve heard hypothetical scenarios of imminent conflict articulated, the premise rests on an egregious abuse of power, typically Democrats weaponizing agencies of the state to target their political opponents. I’ve always walked away from these experiences thinking to myself: If America is a powder keg, then one overreach by the government, real or perceived, could light the fuse.

Think I’m being hysterical? I’ve been accused of that before. But we’ve seen what happens when millions of Americans abandon their faith in the nation’s core institutions. We’ve seen what happens when millions of Americans become convinced that their leaders are illegitimate. We’ve seen what happens when millions of Americans are manipulated into believing that Trump is suffering righteously for their sake; that an attack on him is an attack on them, on their character, on their identity, on their sense of sovereignty. And I fear we’re going to see it again.

— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) August 11, 2022

EJ Dionne/WaPo:

The GOP makes its choice: Trump, yes. Rule of law, no.

The GOP seems to be settling on a snappy slogan for November’s elections: Vote Republican. Because Donald Trump is above the law.

That’s the logical conclusion after a regiment of Republican politicians, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), denounced the FBI’s court-sanctioned search of Mar-a-Lago on Monday even though the fulminators had no idea what Trump may have done to lead a judge to approve it.

I’m just hoping that none of the documents include sensitive information about our Jewish space lasers.

— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) August 12, 2022


Trump world gripped with anger, fear and a host of conspiracies about the FBI search

There is anxiety in the ranks about how this happened, even as they seek to benefit politically from it.

A wave of concern and even paranoia is gripping parts of Trump world as federal investigators tighten their grip on the former president and his inner circle.

In the wake of news that the FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump’s allies and aides have begun buzzing about a host of potential explanations and worries. Among those being bandied about is that the search was a pretext to fish for other incriminating evidence, that the FBI doctored evidence to support its search warrant — and then planted some incriminating materials and recording devices at Mar-a-Lago for good measure — and even that the timing of the search was meant to be a historical echo of the day President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.

Of all the garbage they are throwing this seems the biggest tell. No crooked cop plants evidence that is not incriminating. So their resort to “planted evidence” by definition concedes their belief that what was found was *incriminating evidence*.

— Francis Wilkinson (@fdwilkinson) August 10, 2022

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

Pelosi has found the Democrats’ midterm strategy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has remained unflappably upbeat about the midterms, now has good reason to tout Democrats’ prospects. Even when other issues have popped up (e.g., impeachment of Trump for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol), Pelosi has consistently been an advocate for running on “kitchen table” issues, as she regularly put its, such as lowering the cost of health insurance premiums and prescription drugs…

Above all else, she tells her members, Democrats should run on what they’ve done. Naturally, that will mean highlighting all the measures Republicans opposed (the $35 price cap on insulin being among the juiciest targets).

But she also says Democrats must focus on their future agenda. If Democrats can hold the House and add two more Senate seats, she said at the signing ceremony, “we can get much more done in the United States Senate for the Voting Rights Act and voting protections, and the list goes on — a woman’s right to choose and the rest.”

What can we learn about climate politics from the (long overdue) passage of the Inflation Reduction Act? Two things: 1. Economists were wrong 2. Political scientists were right A 🧵

— Michael Ross (@MichaelRoss7) August 11, 2022

You can read the thread here.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Alex Jones has his day in court

John J. Pitney, Jr./Bulwark:

Democrats Are Running as Opposition Party

Usually the out-party runs as the opposition to the White House. This year, the Supreme Court and Trump have made it possible for Democrats to run as a check on Republican extremism.
The in-party has never been able to wear the “check and balance” mantle—until this year. During the 2022 midterm, there are a couple of ways in which the Democratic appeal is essentially that they will act as a counterweight against an out-of-step Republican party.

Put that recession talk away, and change the subject. A vibecession ain't no recession: July payrolls came in at a huge +528k, and unemployment is down to 3.5%. A whap-bop-a-loopa-a-whap-bam-boo!

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) August 5, 2022

Verdict: Alex Jones owes $45.2 million more to Sandy Hook in punitive damages. That's on top of $4.1 million in compensatory. That's $49.3 million to two Sandy Hook families. Two more trials after this. Unanimous verdict (what's required for punitive damages).

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 5, 2022

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

The Ads That Won the Kansas Abortion Referendum

Avoiding progressive pieties, the ad makers aimed at the broad, persuadable middle of the electorate.

I reviewed eight ads paid for by Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. One used the word choice. Four used decision. Three, neither. The spots usually included the word abortion, but not always.

To appeal to libertarian sentiments, the spots aggressively attacked the anti-abortion amendment as a “government mandate.” To avoid alienating moderates who support constraints on abortion, one ad embraced the regulations already on the Kansas books.

And they used testimonials to reach the electorate: a male doctor who refused to violate his “oath”; a Catholic grandmother worried about her granddaughter’s freedom; a married mom who had a life-saving abortion; and a male pastor offering a religious argument for women’s rights and, implicitly, abortion.

Let’s dissect some of the ads.

Today’s jobs report ‘defied expectations.’ The Kansas abortion vote shocked and stunned. So I say again:

— Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) August 5, 2022

Jack Jenkins/Religion News Service:

In Kansas abortion vote, a blow to Catholic bishops’ political strategy

‘If this is what the bishops are going to do, if this was their plan for a ‘post-Roe’ world, then Catholics are going to be very disappointed,’ said one observer of the Catholic hierarchy.

Analysts were quick to frame the result as a setback for anti-abortion movement, but activists and experts say it also amounts to a rejection of the Catholic Church hierarchy, which had shelled out massive sums of money in support of the amendment’s passage. The vote may hint, too, at mounting backlash against the church’s involvement in the nation’s abortion debate — not least among Catholics themselves.

In the wake of the vote, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who publicly supported the amendment’s passage, issued a statement Wednesday lamenting its failure.

We can argue the strategic value of Democrats spending money in Republican primaries, something Republicans do in Dem primaries all the time, but the bottom line is these insane Republicans are being elected by an extreme Republican base that is the Republican Party of today

— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) August 4, 2022

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The Trumpists are winning. Here are 3 hidden reasons to fear them.

The Trumpists in question are Republicans who won nominations for positions such as governor and secretary of state in critical swing states. The alarming truth is this: Many of them deny the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 victory, even as they are seeking positions of control over the certification of future presidential elections.

But the reality of the threat this poses keeps getting lost in euphemisms. There’s an unwillingness in the media to state the true nature of their project in plain, blunt, clear terms.

Hell of a week for Biden: -528k July jobs added -Unemployment at 3.5% (50-year low) -Zawahiri killed -CHIPS Act passes -PACT Act passes -Inflation Reduction Act deal -Gas hits 50+ day low (median US price below $4/gal) -Kansas protects abortion And he oversaw it all with COVID.

— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) August 5, 2022

Paul Waldman/WaPo:

Why criticism of Democrats for boosting radical Trumpists is wrong

[John] Gibbs {MI] is one of a number of such candidates Democrats have tried to help, and the response has been widespread outrage. Outside of the Democratic officials who made the decision to deploy this tactic, there seems to be a nearly universal consensus that what they have done is reckless and hypocritical.

But while I wouldn’t unequivocally endorse parties trying to get their opponents to nominate the looniest candidates possible, there are a number of reasons why the criticism is overblown and even misguided. In fact, we might look back and say that Democrats made a strategic judgment that struck a reasonable balance between risk and reward.

First, note that one of the first things Meijer did after his defeat was to appear at a “unity” event with Gibbs. Whatever Meijer’s distaste for Gibbs’s repugnant views, he’s backing Gibbs in the general election, so spare me the laments for the departure of such a noble public servant.

Second, we can’t escape this fact: Gibbs was exactly what Republican primary voters in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District wanted. This race got plenty of attention, and Gibbs was not hiding who he is. That’s what they chose, just as Republican voters have in state after state. On the same day, Republicans in another swing state, Arizona, nominated an entire slate of election saboteurs; their nominee for secretary of state is an actual member of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group.

The productivity was hardly sudden. COVID, infrastructure, Juneteenth, postal reform, lend-lease, and more were already law. With CHIPS, guns, IRA, & more, it moves well into a historic Congress and there's still a lame-duck omnibus to pass in December.

— Josh Huder (@joshHuder) August 5, 2022


Trump faces uphill fight on executive privilege in DOJ probe

History and recent battles in civil suits signal he's unlikely to prevail if he seeks to block witnesses' grand jury testimony about Jan. 6.

Short, Jacob and Cipollone testified to the Jan. 6 select committee but negotiated strict terms to avoid discussing their direct interactions with Trump — a nod to the disputed possibility that such communications could be protected by executive privilege. But it’s unlikely that such claims would pass muster in a criminal probe.

“There is no way that any court would say they didn’t have to testify to conversations with President Trump in a grand jury investigation — a criminal investigation arising out of that conduct,” said Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama and represented President Bill Clinton in several executive privilege fights. “There’s no doubt if this got to a court, it would hold that the department is entitled to the information. … I think it’s a no-brainer.”

A lot of the energy behind the "cynical Dems behind MAGA crazies" storyline is driven by pundits who feel very, very off balance needing to say constantly that the GOP is now a sectarian revanchist party thats a threat to democracy over&over because it remains true. Again & gain.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 4, 2022

3/ where Dems were allegedly boosting MAGAs its not even true. PA Gov is a good example of this. Where this has happened is in a number of House contests, run from out of the DCCC. Second, let's be clear what this "boosting" or "running ads for" actually means.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) August 4, 2022

NY Times:

Is It All About ‘Fealty to Trump’s Delusions’? Three Writers Talk About Where the G.O.P. Is Headed.

[Tim] Miller: I just want to say here that I do get pissed about the notion that it’s us, the Never Trumpers, who are obsessed with litigating Jan. 6. Pennsylvania is a critical state that now has a nominee for governor who won because of his fealty to this lie, could win the general election and could put his finger on the scale in 2024. The same may be true in another key state, Arizona. This is a red-level threat for our democracy.

A lot of Republicans in Washington, D.C., want to sort of brush it away just like they brushed away the threat before Jan. 6, because it’s inconvenient.

[Ross] Douthat: Let me frame that D.C. Republican objection a different way: If this is a red-level threat for our democracy, why aren’t Democrats acting like it? Why did Democratic Party money enter so many of these races on behalf of the more extreme, stop-the-steal Republican? For example, given the closeness of the race, that sort of tactic quite possibly helped defeat Meijer in Michigan.

Miller: Give me a break. The ads from the left trying to tilt the races were stupid and frankly unpatriotic. I have spoken out about this before. But it’s not the Democrats who are electing these insane people. Were the Democrats responsible for Mark Finchem? Mehmet Oz? Herschel Walker? Mastriano won by over 20 points. This is what Republican voters want.

Also, advertising is a two-way street. If all these self-righteous Republicans were so angry about the ads designed to promote John Gibbs, they could’ve run pro-Meijer ads! Where was Kevin McCarthy defending his member? He was in Florida shining Mr. Trump’s shoes.

Thinking back to Trump acquittal in 2nd impeachment, can't help but focus on how McConnell/GOP thought Trump, Big Lie, 1/6 would be ancient history by now -- & were trying to make that happen. But 3 months before mid-terms, they are bigger than ever, wrapped around GOP's neck.

— Michelangelo Signorile (@MSignorile) August 5, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Trump’s plot to overthrow the election in full focus this week

Sarah Longwell/Atlantic:

The January 6 Hearings Are Changing Republicans’ Minds

GOP voters want political power. And they’re no longer sure Donald Trump is the best way to get it.

I conducted dozens of focus groups of Trump 2020 voters in the 17 months between the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and when the hearings began in June. One measure was consistent: At least half of the respondents in each group wanted Trump to run again in 2024. The prevailing belief was that the 2020 election was stolen—or at least unfair in some way—and Trump should get another shot.

But since June, I’ve observed a shift. I’ve conducted nine focus groups during this period, and found that only 14 percent of Trump 2020 voters wanted him to run in 2024, with a few others on the fence. In four of the groups, zero people wanted Trump to run again. Their reasoning is clear: They’re now uncertain that Trump can win again.

“He’s just too divisive and controversial,” a participant in Washington State said about Trump. “There are good candidates out there waiting to shine.”

Between the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS+ bill, it's pretty amazing what's being kicked around in production support and/or cost constraints around energy, pharmaceuticals, and tech. Just real cause for hope for the US's long term

— Matt Singer (he/him) (@mattsinger7) July 28, 2022

Robinson Meyer/Atlantic:

Manchin and Schumer’s Astonishing Climate Deal

If passed, the energy provisions of the senators’ new bill would represent the most significant climate action in a generation.

But on climate and energy in particular, the bill is a landmark. It authorizes $369 billion of new climate spending, the largest investment in emissions reduction in American history—and, more important, the biggest blow against climate change ever struck by the U.S. government. “This is it. This is the real victory,” Sam Ricketts, a co-founder of Evergreen Action, a climate think tank, and a former adviser to Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, told me. “I struggle to find enough superlatives to describe this deal.”

The legislation is so big, so multifaceted, that I don’t think it’s possible to summarize in this narrow space. But I will hit a few highlights that are crucial to understanding how the bill’s energy provisions work and what they could mean for the country and the world:

"I will oppose an overwhelmingly popular bill to protect gay marriage that I would otherwise support because I'm mad that the Democrats held a vote on a microchip bill that I also supported" has got to be the best example of DC brain worms I have ever encountered

— Tim Miller (@Timodc) July 28, 2022

Adam Serwer/Atlantic:

Republicans’ Cowardly Excuses for Not Protecting Marriage Equality

There is absolutely no reason to believe that fundamental rights of same-sex couples are safe.

Republican senators such as Marco Rubio and Ben Sasse, as well as conservative outlets such as National Review, have insisted that the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary because there is no case currently on its way to the Supreme Court that has the potential to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the decision that recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry. Rubio said he would vote against the bill because it was a “waste of our time on a non-issue.” Sasse told reporters that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “trying to divide America with culture wars. I think it’s just the same bullshit. She’s not an adult.”

This is nonsense. The majority reasoning in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, is one that would invalidate Obergefell and allow states to destroy hundreds of thousands of families, notwithstanding the majority’s weak and insincere disclaimer that the decision applied only to abortion. In his concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas took aim at Obergefell among other decisions as one granting rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, and therefore a decision that should be overturned. There is absolutely no reason to believe that fundamental rights of same-sex couples are safe. Conservative activists want Obergefell overturned, and will try to make it happen at the first opportunity, because they do not believe that same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Reassurances to the contrary are meaningless, because the same sources that say these rights are not now at risk said similar things about Roe. It is also political strategy: Because they know that repealing marriage equality is an unpopular position, they wish to deny what they are doing right up until the moment it becomes possible. Although no one can predict what the justices themselves will do with complete certainty, Republicans in Congress are now on record as overwhelmingly supportive of the agenda Thomas outlined and the society it would impose.

This is astonishing, yet not surprising. If it feels like you're far less safe in NYC than ever before, it's not bc shootings are up. It's because the media (fueled by lies & fearmongering by NYC Mayor Eric Adams) is up. Look at this chart. Red line is shootings. Grey is media.

— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) July 29, 2022

Liz Sly/WaPo:

Ukraine could be turning the tide of war again as Russian advances stall

The lack of progress may be explained at least in part by the “operational pause” declared by Russia’s Defense Ministry after the seizure of Lysychansk — to allow Russian troops a chance to “rest and develop their combat capabilities,” in the words of President Vladimir Putin.

But the so-called pause did not halt Russian attempts to probe and penetrate Ukrainian lines — and the official end of the pause, announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on July 16, has brought no noticeable increase in the intensity of Russia’s assaults, said George Barros, a geospatial and Russia analyst with the Institute for the Study of War.


What It Will Take For Lisa Murkowski To Win Reelection In Alaska

First, Murkowski’s approval rating has improved more than almost any other senator since President Biden took office. New survey data from Morning Consult found that 46 percent of Alaska registered voters approved of Murkowski in the second quarter of 2022, while 39 percent disapproved. This marked the first time Morning Consult had found Murkowski in net-positive territory during Biden’s presidency. The data also showed how Murkowski is an atypical politician: She had better ratings among those who identify with the opposing party than among her own. The survey found that 62 percent of Democrats approved of her, while 23 percent disapproved. By comparison, 41 percent of Republicans approved of her versus 46 percent who disapproved (she ran about even among independents). However, Murkowski still needs some GOP support in red-leaning Alaska to win, and she might be able to retain it: Those numbers among Republicans were much better than in the first quarter of 2021, when 76 percent of them disapproved of her.

Still, it’s not hard to see why Democrats now have a better opinion of Murkowski than Republicans do. Murkowski supports abortion rights, and she’s tallied a number of conservative apostasies in recent years, including her 2017 vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act and her vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial following the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The latter vote even led the Alaska GOP to censure her. Going back to 2010, her tea party-backed primary challenger, Joe Miller, cast her as a RINO — “Republican in name only” — and narrowly defeated her for renomination. But Murkowski bucked her party to mount a write-in campaign and, remarkably, won that November. (She also beat Miller in 2016, when he ran as a Libertarian.) So she’s overcome a stern intraparty challenge before, although it took an extraordinarily unusual campaign.

I once worked in a (winning) presidential campaign. You would kiss the ground in thanks for oppo self-own material like this. The Oz campaign will be studied for a long time. (And the Fetterman campaign.)

— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) July 28, 2022

Caitlin Rivers, PhD/Substack:

A look at the CDC monkeypox technical report

Detailed epidemiological data now available!

I encourage a full review of the new U.S. report. The following highlights stood out to me:

  • Over 99% of cases are in men (or assigned male sex at birth), and 99% of cases are in men who have sex with men. This confirms that men who have sex with men are currently the primary population at risk, and that public health interventions (e.g., outreach, education, vaccination, treatment) should be tailored to them.

  • The mean incubation period was estimated at 7.6 days (CrI 6.2-9.7). with 95% of cases developing symptoms within 17.1 days. The time from exposure to rash onset is slightly longer, at 8.7 days (CrI 6.9-11.7). CDC has previously said that fever, lymphadenopathy and malaise are commonly reported before rash onset, so those may be the symptoms that patients are experiencing in the 2 days before the rash becomes apparent.

  • The median number of days between symptom onset and a positive test result was 8 days, which has remained stable or declined slightly over time. In my opinion, this is one of the most important findings of the report. Rapid diagnosis is critical for enabling public health interventions which are needed to break chains of transmission. A diagnosis is also what enables people who are affected to receive proper treatment. I am glad that CDC chose to report this important metric week by week so that trends can be assessed. Time to diagnosis can and should be reduced through education, case finding, accessible diagnostic testing, and quick turnaround times for lab results.

Sarah Gollust/Twitter:

New study in @JAMANetworkOpen led by @rtopazian @colleenlbarry & colleagues reports concerning finding that a growing percentage of U.S. adults said harassing or threatening public health officials over COVID-19 business closures was justified {thread}

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Writing down a criminal conspiracy isn’t just good television

NY Times:

‘Kind of Wild/Creative’: Emails Shed Light on Trump Fake Electors Plan

Previously undisclosed communications among Trump campaign aides and outside advisers provide new insight into their efforts to overturn the election in the weeks leading to Jan. 6

In emails reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who had worked with the Trump campaign at the time, one lawyer involved in the detailed discussions repeatedly used the word “fake” to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome. And lawyers working on the proposal made clear they knew that the pro-Trump electors they were putting forward might not hold up to legal scrutiny.


Justice Dept. investigating Trump’s actions in Jan. 6 criminal probe

People familiar with the probe said investigators are examining the former president’s conversations and have seized phone records of top aides

The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors who are questioning witnesses before a grand jury — including two top aides to Vice President Mike Pence — have asked in recent days about conversations with Trump, his lawyers, and others in his inner circle who sought to substitute Trump allies for certified electors from some states Joe Biden won, according to two people familiar with the matter. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

This confirms what we’ve seen so far during the January 6th Committee hearings—the dishonest lawyers advising Trump (Clark, Eastman, Giuliani, etc) have significant liability and could be charged with straightforward crimes by DOJ.

— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) July 25, 2022


Why Democrats' Midterm Chances Don't Hinge On Biden's Approval Rating

On one hand, President Biden is historically unpopular: As of July 25 at 5 p.m. Eastern, he had an average approval rating of 38 percent and an average disapproval rating of 57 percent — a net approval rating of -19 percentage points. You have to go back to Harry Truman to find a president with a net approval rating that bad at this point in his term.

On the other, generic-congressional-ballot polls are pretty close. As of the same date and time, Republicans had an average lead of 1 point.

Those two numbers feel difficult to reconcile. Biden’s approval rating suggests that the national mood is extremely poor for Democrats, while the generic-ballot polling suggests that the political environment is only slightly Republican-leaning. But in reality, these two types of polls aren’t in opposition as much as you might think. They’re separate metrics, and a look back at past midterm elections shows they don’t always line up. But history also shows that when they do diverge, one is more predictive than the other.

First, it’s kind of an obvious point, but presidential-approval polls and generic-ballot polls are measuring two different things. 

The Uvalde school board is formally urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call state lawmakers back to Austin so they can raise the legal age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21

— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) July 26, 2022

Washington Examiner:

Republicans blame drop in online GOP grassroots fundraising on inflation and Trump

“As the economy eats away at purchasing power, something has to go by the wayside,” said Zac Moffatt, CEO of Targeted Victory, a Republican consulting firm that specializes in digital fundraising and strategy. Targeted Victory maintains a house file of online donors. The firm discovered through periodic polling that these grassroots Republicans have reduced discretionary budgets for political giving in response to inflation that accelerated to 9.1% in June.

“We do these massive 3,000-person surveys to our donor file,” Moffatt explained. “The verbatim [responses have been:] It’s gas or this donation; it’s vacation with our children or this donation.” Republican insiders interviewed for this story were more guarded when discussing the Trump factor in the second-quarter fundraising downturn experienced by so many GOP candidates and groups, fearing reprisals by the former president. Granted anonymity, they unloaded.

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

It’s no wonder right-wing justices didn’t weigh Dobbs’s awful impact on women

With so many disturbing aspects of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade — the shoddy history, the contempt for stare decisis, etc. — it is easy to forget that one of the most heinous came from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

During oral arguments, Julie Rikelman, counsel for Jackson’s Women Health, had the temerity to spell out the ramifications that bans would have on the health and future of women denied an abortion. Roberts cut her off and plunged ahead in his search for justification for a 15-week limit on the procedure.

Do people still think this is an open question? Yes, Republicans will shut out the press in 2024. Virtually the entire presidential primary will be conducted through the right-wing press. Mainstream press will get access only to be used as punching bags.

— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 26, 2022

Sarah Posner/TNR:

How Did Maryland Republicans Nominate Two Extremist Screwballs for Statewide Office?

The gubernatorial nominee was at the Capitol on January 6. The attorney general pick says public schools belong to Hitler. What is going on?

Last Tuesday, Republican primary voters in Maryland picked two radical extremists as their nominees in November’s race for governor and attorney general. In electing Dan Cox as their gubernatorial candidate and Michael Peroutka as their nominee for attorney general, Maryland Republicans showed not just that they prefer the Trumpier brand of the GOP. They showed that a long campaign by radical right theocrats to take over the party has borne more fruit in the age of Trump than ever before, coalescing in a toxic merger of white Christian nationalism and the stolen election lie.

Peter Wehner/NY Times:

What in the World Happened to Elise Stefanik?

There was a time in 2016 when Elise Stefanik, now the third-ranking Republican in the House, was so disgusted by Donald Trump, she would barely mention his name. Today he proudly refers to her as “one of my killers.”

She proved that again last month. In an effort to undermine confidence in the select committee investigating the violent assault on the Capitol, Ms. Stefanik said, “This is not a serious investigation. This is a partisan political witch hunt.” The committee, she said, is “illegitimate.” The hearings did not change her mind. In mid-July, before the final session planned for the summer, she referred to the committee as a “sham” and declared that “it is way worse than the impeachment witch hunt parts one and two.”

Maybe Ms. Stefanik was continuing to discredit the House committee because the evidence it has produced from Trump insiders — and the compelling way the evidence has been presented — has inflicted staggering damage on Mr. Trump, even though it might not prevent him from winning the Republican presidential nomination for a third straight time. Ms. Stefanik has failed in her efforts to sabotage the committee, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Doug Mastriano consultant and Gab CEO Andrew Torba has reaffirmed he doesn't want right-wing Jewish commentators like Ben Shapiro and Dave Rubin in his movement unless they “repent” and renounce their Jewish faith.

— Eric Hananoki (@ehananoki) July 22, 2022

David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:

What Comes Next After Biden’s Foreign Policy Marathon

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks about Biden’s recent Middle East trip and the challenges that lie ahead

“You’d be hard-pressed to find another president operating at this pace—and all this in an election year,” said U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. “When you think of the stakes involved with China, Russia, Ukraine, NATO expansion, ensuring affordable energy and food supplies, Israel’s integration with the region, shoring up security partnerships, and major issues of geopolitics—to do all those things in nine weeks and to see how much better off the U.S. is at the end of it whether in terms of short-term or long-term trends, it is hard to argue, especially for anyone who has watched him in action, that he has slowed down or been hindered by domestic politics.”

.@CNN Poll Do you think that Trump's public statements leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol encouraged political violence? % Yes/No Voters 60/40 Dem 94/6 GOP 20/79 Ind 66/34 Lib 91/9 Mod 71/29 Con 21/79 White,College 60/40 White,No degree 44/55

— Aron Goldman (@ArgoJournal) July 26, 2022

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: What to do about Donald Trump

Ian Bassin and Erica Newland/NYRB:

The Attorney General’s Choice

Merrick Garland’s job in weighing a Trump indictment is not to heal the nation.

The Founders also grasped the difference between the normal judgments delegated to prosecutors and questions that should be left to presidents in moments of national crisis. Arguing in favor of the pardon power to the people of New York during the ratification debates, Alexander Hamilton suggested that “in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a well timed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquility of the commonwealth.” This is precisely the consideration many are now asking Merrick Garland to take into account. But the Founders deliberately gave this power to the president alone, and courts have repeatedly held that it cannot be delegated.

The point is that Merrick Garland doesn’t have to decide whether prosecution is for the good of the nation, or that the nation should be spared. That’s a president’s job (see Gerald Ford). 

If there’s a reason to prosecute, prosecute.

Michelle Cottle/NY Times:

The Good, the Bad and the Chicken on Jan. 6

Among the most uplifting takeaways has been Liz Cheney’s display of public service. Yes, ideologically speaking, she is a Democrat’s nightmare, an in-your-face conservative who would ordinarily make for great fund-raising fodder. But when it comes to fighting for democracy, personal costs be damned, she has gone all in on the principle that protecting America from all enemies — be they foreign or Floridian — should trump political and policy disagreements. “I believe this is the most important thing I’ve ever done professionally,” she recently told my colleague Peter Baker, “and maybe the most important thing I ever do.” Fact check: True.

At the other end of the patriotic spectrum crouches Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff. From the accounts of his actions (or lack thereof) leading up to and including Jan. 6 — not to mention his ongoing silence — we have learned so much about what cynical, amoral, craven, butt-smooching venality looks like. One suspects that somewhere in Mr. Meadows’s attic hangs a portrait of him, his painted visage steadily rotting away.

Is the "red wave" ebbing? Probably not much. But as Dems show more signs of life and Rs nominate several problematic candidates, we're downgrading our @CookPolitical House outlook from a GOP gain of 20-35 seats to 15-30 seats. Full analysis:

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) July 22, 2022

Keep it going. The trends are in our favor.

NY Times:

The Jan. 6 Hearings Did a Great Service, by Making Great TV

Investigating a threat to democracy was always going to be important. But this time, it also managed to be buzzworthy.

These hearings, in an era of social-media cacophony, cable-news argument and fixed political camps, were never likely to build to a cinematic climax that would unite the public in outrage. Yet by the standards of today, they have achieved some remarkable things.

They drew an audience for public-affairs TV in the dead of summer. They reportedly prompted further witnesses to come forward. Polling suggests they even moved opinion on Mr. Trump and Jan. 6 among Republicans and independents. They created riveting — and dare I say, watchable — water cooler TV that legitimately mattered.

And make no mistake: The hearings, produced by James Goldston, the former president of ABC News, succeeded not just through good intentions but also by being well-made, well-promoted TV. They may have been a most unusual eight-episode summer series (with more promised in September). But they had elements in common with any good drama.

I have been warning about this for two years. Congress has known all along. But congressional leaders have not closed the statutory loophole that makes this possible. What’s needed is a straightforward technical fix. But heaven forbid they legislate.

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 22, 2022

Paul Waldman/WaPo:

The most dangerous threat to America? White male entitlement.

As witness after witness testified to the Jan. 6 House select committee Thursday about Donald Trump’s deranged and possibly illegal plot to cling to power, it was impossible to ignore his sense of entitlement. What was this system for, if not to give him whatever he wanted? And if it wouldn’t, he would tear it down.

That’s not just his story; it’s also the story of those who stormed the Capitol on his behalf. And it’s increasingly the story of the Republican Party. In our ongoing debate about what the Constitution means and whether we should have a genuine democracy, it is the people who have been given the most advantages who are most willing, even eager, to destroy the American system.

This is about much more than Jan. 6, 2021(...)

Only 8 of the 213 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives support an individual right to contraceptives. Think about that.

— Lucy Caldwell (@lucymcaldwell) July 21, 2022

EJ Dionne/WaPo:

 Finally, the dam is breaking against Trump

During Thursday’s prime-time session, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) summed up the explosive impact of this summer’s hearings by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

“The dam,” she declared, “has begun to break.”

Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, was speaking largely of new investigative opportunities that a parade of witnesses has opened into President Donald Trump’s illicit effort to maintain power. But her statement had much broader implications.

The Jan. 6 committee has fundamentally altered public perceptions of Trump’s role in the violence at the Capitol.

Yesterday prominent GOP polling firm @EchelonInsights found Ds leading by between 4-7 pts. Today highly influential in GOP circles @USChamber released a poll showing Ds up 46-41. Questions about whether McConnell and McCarthy are blowing the election going to start flying now.

— Simon Rosenberg (@SimonWDC) July 21, 2022

Leonard Pitts, Jr/Miami Herald:

You’ve been too quiet, Merrick Garland. Show us you will vigorously defend democracy

Dear Attorney General Merrick Garland:

In a press conference Wednesday, you seemed fed up with carping about the perceived timidity and inertia of your department and you. “A central tenet of the rule of law,” you said, “is that we do not do our investigations in public.” You added that, “We have to hold accountable every person who is criminally responsible for trying to overturn a legitimate election ... in a way filled with integrity and professionalism.” In other words: Back off and let us do our jobs. Your pique is arguably understandable. But there is something here you may not be grasping.

People are impatient, yes. They demand accountability, yes. But the other factor at play is simply that it’s been a very tough time for the aforementioned rule of law. One is reminded of an old trope from Western movies: The angry mob descends on the jailhouse with torches and rope, ready to drag out some prisoner and do street justice. But the sheriff stands them off, tells them to leave the prisoner’s fate to the law. Clichéd as that scene is, it captures an important truth. Fealty to the rule of law is not a native instinct. To the contrary, the native instinct is to demand instant satisfaction if somebody has done you wrong. But the rule of law asks us to exchange torches and rope for a set of rules to be administered on our behalf by the government. Thus do human beings carve civil societies from wildernesses of social primitivism.

Truly remarkable numbers. In just under two years public approval of the US Supreme Court has fallen from 66% to 38%. Simply unprecedented in rapidity. This is what fatal loss of institutional legitimacy looks like.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 20, 2022

The Bulwark:

Wisconsin Swing Voters Are Done With Trump and Biden—and Not Sold on DeSantis

Trump-to-Biden voters don't want the olds.

“Trump, I would have to agree, was great for our economy, but he was an embarrassment by the way he spoke, his tweets, his attitude,” commented Ginger, 62, from Sherwood. “He was not in control of his emotions, and I found that to be very embarrassing for the leader of our country. Biden is just so confused, and he’s almost like a puppet who is saying what somebody tells him to say. Anytime he speaks, he gets so confused. I think he needs to enjoy retirement.”

“I just don’t feel [Biden] is all there enough to keep going. He’s too old for [the presidency],” remarked Jamie, 36, from Green Bay.

Did 20 or so Senate Republicans acquit Donald Trump of treason during his second impeachment trial in order to cover up their role in a "congressional coup"?

— *The* Editorial Board (@johnastoehr) July 22, 2022