Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: As goes the swing voter, so goes the election—Part II

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet.

New York Times:

‘Antihero’ or ‘Felon’: 11 Undecided Voters Struggle With How to See Trump Post-Verdict

Ben, you’re up. Can you explain why undecided?

Ben, 42, Texas, white, college adviser

A couple people have mentioned a massive judicial conspiracy of everybody going after him. OK, let’s talk conspiracy math here. The sheer number of people who would have to be working together to get something like this working just boggles the mind. And have you ever tried to get four people to agree on what to order for pizza? I just don’t see this working out. And at the end of the day, OK, fine. OK, I’m going to side with Jonathan on this one, saying, what’s the big deal about bribing Stormy Daniels? But I want a president who’s going to be able to cover up a $130,000 bribe to Daniels. If he can’t pull that off, I’m not going to trust him with the nuclear football. This seems like such an easy thing for him to screw up. I’m kind of leaning toward Biden now.

Well, okay then. So long as it’s about policy.

From that story, five of the eleven are leaning Biden, 3 Trump, the other 3 RFK, Jr or won’t vote.

Democratic strategist @celindalake on the Trump convictions: Ds need more repetition, a louder echo chamber, responses to upcoming events (sentencing, appeal, convention) all through a "character matters" lens. Thanks @GregTSargent for this conversation. https://t.co/eeMa38lL6W

— Jill Lawrence (@JillDLawrence) June 5, 2024

NBC News:

Biden calls Trump a 'convicted felon' who 'snapped' after the 2020 election

The president also called Trump, who was found guilty last week in his New York criminal trial, "unhinged."

“It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” Biden told reporters at the White House last week.

Biden made similar remarks Monday, saying, "It's reckless and dangerous for anyone to say that’s rigged just because they don’t like” the outcome.

"Something snapped in this guy for real" after the 2020 election, Biden said. "It’s literally driving him crazy."

Biden also called Trump "unhinged."

(During impeachment) This should be decided at the ballot box! (He loses at the ballot box) (incites a violent mob to storm the capitol) If he broke any laws, that’s up to a jury to decide! (A jury decides he broke a ton of laws) This should be decided at the ballot box!

— Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) June 3, 2024

Jill Lawrence/The Bulwark:

The MAGA Education of Larry Hogan The Senate candidate learns the hard way that his party no longer supports the rule of law.

The MAGA hardliners, who don’t represent most of us but are determined nevertheless to be the boss of all of us, are lying in wait. The Senate is particularly easy to muck up and bog down, and they are ready. Ready to block Democratic nominees, legislative priorities, and funds for “partisan lawfare,” which is how they describe bringing charges against Trump. They claim the Biden administration is making “a mockery of the rule of law” and they want revenge: “We are unwilling to aid and abet this White House in its project to tear this country apart.”

As Trump would say, unbelievable. Projection like we’ve never seen.

Hogan’s crash course in MAGA-style politics has gotten a lot more intense in the last few days. He may have a feeling he’s not in Maryland anymore, and he’d be right. Planet MAGA is home for the GOP these days—and Larry Hogan is an alien.

Stephen Collinson/CNN:

Why Biden’s escalation on Trump guilty verdict is so significant

Other Democratic officials have used such rhetoric. But the phrase took on greater force coming from the mouth of the president himself. While Republicans have rallied around Trump since his conviction, it remains unclear how the verdict will go down in swing states where the shift in a few thousand votes could decide November’s election.

Biden’s remark was yet another stunning turn in an election entangled in Trump’s multiple legal threats. It came on a day when the first family was embroiled in its own extraordinary courtroom drama as Biden’s son Hunter became the first child of a sitting president to go on trial. The younger Biden has pleaded not guilty to charges of buying and possessing a gun illegally while addicted to or abusing drugs. He also faces a tax trial in September.

Last week, Biden noted that Trump had been convicted on 34 felony counts and said it was “reckless … dangerous … and irresponsible” for his opponent to say the verdict was rigged. Presidential remarks in off-camera fundraisers can often serve as a test bed for rhetoric that later emerges in public events. But Biden’s sharpened tone will certainly lead to accusations by the Trump campaign that the former president’s conviction came after a process of political weaponization of the justice system.

The fake elector scandal has racked up indictment totals unseen since Watergate and Iran-Contra: - Arizona: 18 were indicted - Georgia: 19 were indicted - Michigan: 16 were indicted - Nevada: Six were indicted - Wisconsin: Three were indicted this morning https://t.co/OdsH8nK4nu

— Steve Benen (@stevebenen) June 4, 2024

John Stoehr/The Editorial Board:

Will a felony conviction hurt Trump? Yes! Just listen to him!

The man's practically howling in pain, but some people still wonder

For the most part, all this wondering comes from very clever people who are paid very handsome salaries to wonder aloud about things, even in the face of plain reality that should end all the wondering.

I’m talking, of course, about members of the Washington press and pundit corps, even some liberals, who want more than anything else to get your attention. They can’t do that as well as they would like if the contours of the election align with normal common sense. It’s normally very bad for a convicted felon to run for president, but it’s more fun, and perhaps more lucrative, to pretend the opposite could be normal.

Political reporters are probably more bored than cynical. Trump never changes and he’s been campaigning nonstop since 2015. The main difference is while he was fascist-lite then, he’s full-on fascist now. That’s not enough, though, and when political reporters get bored, they assume everyone else is bored, too. That assumption, however, should be seen as a choice of convenience. Assumed boredom is a credible rationale for believing spin about a felony conviction working in Trump’s favor, instead of what it really is, which is a painful wound.

💥Netanyahu is cornered: Families of hostages asked Knesset members for their signatures– and 70 (out of 120) joined a call asking Netanyahu to accept the hostage deal. pic.twitter.com/V5u8dPKppT

— Noga Tarnopolsky נגה טרנופולסקי نوغا ترنوبولسكي (@NTarnopolsky) June 4, 2024

Alon Pinkas:

Israel Is in Flames, Israelis Are Dying, While Netanyahu Polishes a Speech for Sycophants in Congress

Analysts of Benjamin Netanyahu keep attributing grand plans to the Israeli prime minister. But there is no plan – just a desperate, incompetent leader, manipulating a once-thriving country, who couldn't care less about the hostages or their families

Northern Israel is burning, four hostages taken alive by Hamas on October 7 have been confirmed dead by the Israel Defense Forces, he is clueless as to what happens next and refuses to engage in any deliberations on postwar frameworks. But don't worry, while his country is in flames, Nero Claudius Caesar Netanyahu is busy picking out a tie for his sanctimonious, recklessly unnecessary, patently divisive showcase speech in the U.S. Congress later this month.

Now that @netanyahu has signaled he won't come June 13, getting a date before Aug recess is increasingly difficult, per sources familiar. House is in June 25-28 and then 3 weeks in July, one of which is the NATO summit in D.C. Johnson said in closed GOP meeting this AM that…

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 4, 2024

Matt Robison on the effect of the Trump felony conviction:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The Trump ‘Reich’ reference is a reminder of what’s at stake in November

Reed Galen/The Home Front:

Donald Trump's 'Unified Reich'

Bullhorns, Not Dog Whistles

Donald Trump is in dire electoral straits, regardless of what national and state polling says. His coalition, such as it is, is smaller, older, whiter, more male, and more extreme than it was four years ago. You can read my deeper analysis here.

The noteworthy part of this episode for the Trump campaign isn’t that they posted a video talking about a ‘reich.’ What’s most interesting is that after the firestorm that erupted, his organization chose to take it down

CBS News:

Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty as Trump allies are arraigned in Arizona 2020 election case

Allies of former President Donald Trump were arraigned Tuesday in Phoenix on charges that include conspiracy, fraud and forgery that are related to an alleged scheme to put forward phony electors in the 2020 election who backed Trump despite President Biden winning the state.

Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty to nine federal charges in the case in a virtual appearance. The former New York City mayor and Trump attorney was served Friday night while leaving his 80th birthday party.

Other defendants include former Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorneys Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb, former Turning Point USA youth director Tyler Bowyer and Arizona Republican state election officials.

Trump adjacent characters are in court for the Arizona FAFO phase of election denial.

When voters tell a pollster which issues important to them, does that mean those issues determine how they'll vote? Actually, no. New from me @goodauth: https://t.co/4UwqbhHd6M

— John Sides (@johnmsides) May 21, 2024

Matt Robison/Washington Monthly:

The Low Information Trap: Why Don’t Voters “Get It?” Because They Don’t Know About It

Many voters aren’t reacting to Donald Trump’s many outrages because they don’t consume much news. At least, not yet.

If you had to boil down the biggest question rattling through the minds of tortured Democrats these days, it’s “Why don’t voters get it?”

How in the name of all that is holy can Donald Trump—a man indicted on 91 felony counts—still be leading in polls? Why are people so down on a president who has passed more popular bills than anyone since Lyndon Johnson? How could it be that while jobs and economic growth are soaring, many voters believe the economy is doing worse than during the Great Recession?

In other words, when things seem so obvious, how can voters be so oblivious?

There are plenty of theories. Stephen Colbert thinks voters have become “numb”: a political callous formed by years of rubbing against Trump’s outrages. Paul Krugman argues that a lot of voter sourness is driven by extreme hatred of Democrats by addled Republicans—a phenomenon dubbed “negative partisanship” by political scientists. Scads of commentators think Biden has been weighed down by lousy salesmanship, exemplified by the now-jettisoned slogan “Bidenomics.”

But there’s something even simpler going on, something the analyst world tends to undervalue: Almost no one is paying attention.

Late night scoop from @TChingarande. About 40 Arab American leaders met with Trump's "shadow secretary of state" Tuesday night at a chain Italian restaurant in Troy, Michigan. It didn't go well.https://t.co/mJLm9TnnYy

— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) May 22, 2024

Rick Hasen/Election Law Blog:

With Both Sides Resting in Trump Hush Money Trial, Whether Donald Trump Committed Felonies is Uncertain, Likely Depending on the Jury Instructions and How Appeals Courts Will Interpret the Law

As I explained in my LA Times piece, to make this into a felony, Trump had to be falsifying the records to further or conceal another crime. From the beginning, the NY district attorney was not that forthcoming about what those other crimes are. Eventually, the DA settled on three: violations of federal campaign finance law; a state election law, and a state tax law. The prosecutors’ emphasis has been on violation of federal campaign finance law.

There’s been much less attention paid to the state election law claim. As I’ve written, no one seems to be prosecuted under this New York law. This raises issues of potential selective prosecution. And more importantly, no one knows how appeals courts will say this New York law could be violated and whether what Trump did qualifies. Can violation of a federal campaign finance law constitute a state election law violation? Another serious issue on appeal.

I cannot speak to the state tax law violations, but we’ve heard very little about them in the prosecution’s case. Will those claims even go to the jury? What will the jury instructions there look like?

Still, there’s a good chance the District Attorney will cite New York State election law as the predicate.

POLITICO:

‘Are you staring me down right now?’: Key Trump defense witness draws judge’s wrath

The judge briefly cleared the courtroom while he admonished the witness and threatened to kick him off the stand.

Shortly after the prosecution rested its case Monday in the Manhattan hush money trial, the defense called to the stand a belligerent witness who sparred with prosecutors, muttered under his breath and drew the ire of the judge.

That witness was not Donald Trump.

Instead, it was an old-school New York lawyer named Robert Costello, whose demeanor on the stand seemed to embody defendant Trump’s surly attitude throughout the trial, which is in its sixth week and now appears to be heading for closing arguments next week.

From Katie Phang on X:

Here is a paraphrase of Costello's email:

"We can get Cohen on the right page without giving the appearance that we are following instructions from Giuliani or the President. In my opinion, this is the clear & correct strategy…..Signed, BOB .”

Cross examination: did you send Michael Cohen a retainer? That he didn’t sign?

Costello: yes

Cross: why was it inserted into a newspaper wrapped around a fish? Was that a message?

Costello: yeah, I like fish.

The above is only a slight exaggeration.

Trump Slams Colombia-Born Judge Presiding Over His Trial by Saying, 'Take a Look at Where He Comes From' https://t.co/Qnfi8hTGBr

— Mediaite (@Mediaite) May 21, 2024

In regard to a different court, Jill Lawrence/The Bulwark:

Enough Already: It’s Time to Reform the Supreme Court

Ethics outrages and partisan hardball are not what the Founders had

HOW MANY LAST STRAWS can there be? When it comes to the Supreme Court, the supply appears to be infinite.

The Court needs an extreme makeover ASAP, and that is far from an extreme idea. It’s the only path back to a high court that is trustworthy, balanced, logical, and durable.

The latest shock is the photo of an upside-down American flag—a symbol adopted by Donald Trump supporters, including the “Stop the Steal” movement to keep him in office after he lost—on display outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s house in January 2021, just days after an insurrectionist mob waving some upside-down flags attacked the U.S. Capitol.

And no matter how or how soon the justices rule on Trump’s argument that he deserves absolute immunity from criminal prosecution, apparently on the theory that presidents should be free to do whatever, including try to overturn elections they’ve lost, the oral argument in that case last month was so disturbing—with justices and Trump’s lawyers entertaining hypotheticals about a president ordering the murder of a political rival—that it can never be unheard. Not even if Trump loses the 2024 election, not even if he’s convicted in any or all of his criminal trials.

Dan Pfeiffer/”The Message Box” on Substack:

Why Dems Should Run Against the MAGA Supreme Court

The corruption of Alito and Thomas is an opportunity to unify the frayed Anti-MAGA coalition

Alito’s conflict of interest is not an isolated instance. Clarence Thomas failed to report a long list of financial gifts from people with business interests before the court. He refused to recuse himself from cases involving Trump’s efforts to overturn the election even though his wife was an active participant in the effort.

There is almost nothing Democrats can do. Representative Adan Schiff called on Thomas and Alito to recuse themselves. They won’t. Impeachment is not an option. A Republican House would not take it up and there is no universe where a sufficient number of Republican Senators would vote to remove a corrupt Justice.

With all of that said, we can channel our anger at Alito and the rest of the corrupt MAGA court into productive action. We can win the presidential election, in part by running against a corrupt Supreme Court.

The three states that matter most — Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — all within 2 points or less. #tightasatick https://t.co/1HZheCIzY4

— Josh Kraushaar (@JoshKraushaar) May 22, 2024

Cliff Schecter on Democrats Jared Moskowitz and Jamie Raskin’s taking care of business:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Perspective on a presidential debate

David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:

All Signs Point to a Trump Debate Meltdown

Biden is eager for the chance to stand toe-to-toe with his predecessor because it will be incredibly hard to look worse in comparison.

Of course, Biden actually isn’t behind Trump in the polls, with most showing the race essentially tied—and several including the most recent NYT Ipsos poll showing Biden up by 3. Further, the idea that “age” is an issue for two guys who are essentially the same age, is one that does not stand up to the slightest scrutiny. But never mind all that.

No, after talking to a number of Biden administration officials, it is clear that the primary reason Joe Biden chose to debate Donald Trump is… because he can win.

Republicans pitch plan to replace Rebel leader with Hank Aaron statue. ‘It’s time Georgia unites,’ the GOP sponsor says, ‘and recognizes one of our favorite sons on Capitol Hill.’ #gapol https://t.co/a9aQRBZjtw

— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) May 16, 2024

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

The Biden Campaign Is Worried  

The decision to propose two debates with Donald Trump is a clear sign the president’s reelection team knows it’s behind.  
It might be true that no course corrections are necessary. Simply staying on message for the next six months might be all the 81-year-old president and his campaign need to reach minimal news-consuming swing voters in time for Election Day.

Think back to 2012, when Democrats were panicking about President Barack Obama’s prospects and questioning his ability to communicate economic improvement coming out of the Great Recession. In the CBS/New York Times poll, from 2010 through much of 2012, Obama’s handling of the economy was significantly underwater. To make matters worse for the Obama-Biden ticket, Mitt Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, had a solid bounce in late August following the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, and caught Obama in the poll average.  

If the “Biden is doomed” public polls are accurate, why aren’t we seeing stories about Dems freaking/distancing themselves from Biden/retiring, & why aren’t Repubs gloating (in fact, it’s the _Repubs_ who are retiring)? https://t.co/J1UCjROheG

— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) May 16, 2024

Washington Post:

Pentagon says Gaza pier anchored, but U.N. casts doubt on distribution

U.S. officials said aid deliveries could start “within days,” but it was unclear whether there was a firm deal with the U.N. to distribute the food once it arrives on land.

About 90 trucks per day are expected to come over the pier via an attached floating causeway before ramping up to 150 trucks daily, officials have said. After the operation was announced by President Biden in early March, the Pentagon said up to 2 million meals per day could eventually be moved into Gaza via this “maritime corridor.”

Yet even as the U.S. military has said delays in getting the deliveries underway were largely due to poor weather and sea swells, the United Nations continued to hedge Thursday on whether it has fully agreed to deliver the aid brought from the pier.

In a news briefing later in the day, Farhan Haq, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, characterized the negotiations as “still going on.

There’s still a tremendous amount of uncertainty about these arrangements, in no small part due to the ambivalence of the Israeli government.

Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz:

Why Israel's Defense Minister Just Broke His Silence About Netanyahu's Gaza War Paralysis

Israeli Defense Minister Gallant's press conference calling for a 'day after' plan in Gaza was his third time publicly putting Netanyahu on blast. While it won't take Netanyahu down, it portends more turmoil

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has made little secret of his contempt for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu throughout this war. Long before his bombshell of a press conference on Wednesday night, in one of the very rare occasions over the past seven months in which the two were seen together in public (at a press conference on October 28), a reporter asked Gallant, "You've expressed confidence in the [Israel Defense Forces] chief of staff and in the directors of the Shin Bet and Mossad. Do you have confidence in the prime minister as well?"

Gallant hesitated for a second and answered, "I spoke about what I'm responsible for – the security establishment." Israel was at war and its defense minister was refusing to say that he had confidence in the prime minister. Not that it came as much of a surprise to anyone. Seven months earlier, Netanyahu tried to fire Gallant over his open objections to the judicial overhaul and backed down only in the wake of a night of massive protests that rocked his government and forced him to suspend the legislation. Netanyahu may have rescinded the dismissal, but that hardly restored confidence.

Todd Blanche’s opening gambit in his cross of Michael Cohen will go down in the annals of oratory, eclipsing Clarence Darrow, Daniel Webster—nay, Cicero himself: “You went on Tik Tok and called me a ‘crying little shit,’ didn’t you?” 😂

— Roger Parloff (@rparloff) May 15, 2024

John Harwood/Zeteo:

"Accusation as confession": Biden isn’t "weaponizing" the DOJ but Trump has and will again The briefest review of Trump's and Biden's records puts the lie to Republicans' "weaponization" claims.

The deeper Trump-era Republicans fall into aberrant behavior, the more they lean on a single answer to Democrats: whatever we do, you do - and vice versa. Call it false equivalency, or whataboutism, or accusation-as-confession by an extremist party trying to pass as a normal one. Republicans’ attempt to justify their behavior to Washington reporters like me has become an all-season reflex.

When President Joe Biden pressured Israel to dial back its assault on Gaza, former Vice President Mike Pence likened it to former President Donald Trump’s attempt to blackmail the Ukrainian president for political dirt on Biden. When Senate Democrats dismissed their meritless impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Republicans declared it a permission slip for sidetracking future impeachments of Republicans.

National security, government finance, social policy – Republicans apply false equivalence to any political jam.

Randall Eliason/Sidebars:

Unpacking the Cuellar Indictment

Husband and wife corruption

On April 30 federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas indicted U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar and his wife Imelda on corruption charges. Cuellar is a Democrat who has represented Texas’s 29th Congressional District since 2005. The District is in Southern Texas, stretching from the Mexican border to the Houston suburbs. He and Imelda have been married since 1992. She worked for 25 years in Texas state government before retiring in 2012.

Prosecutors charge that beginning in 2014, the Cuellars engaged in two separate years-long bribery schemes. One alleged scheme involved a state-owned oil and gas company in Azerbaijan, and the other involved a large retail bank chain based in Mexico. The Cuellars allegedly accepted nearly $600,000 from these companies in exchange for the Congressman’s agreement to perform official acts on their behalf and unlawfully act as their agent.

The case looks compelling. Much of the evidence comes from the Congressman’s own emails and text messages, which appear to demonstrate his eagerness to work on behalf of these foreign interests. There’s a long paper trail of bank records and money transfers that appear to lack any innocent explanation. At least three other people involved in the schemes have already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the prosecution.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty and Cuellar has said he still intends to run for re-election in the fall.

Cliff Schecter features Jasmine Crockett (she is well worth featuring):

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: America has changed. That’s a mixed blessing

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet

Politco Magazine:

Why Stormy Daniels Isn’t Getting the Monica Lewinsky Treatment

So far, none of the familiar sexist insults have seemed to stick.

Sex scandals have come a long way since the Bill Clinton days.

That’s a major takeaway from this week’s courtroom spectacle, when Daniels calmly testified about hotel room dalliances and sexual positions and the clumsy come-ons from a future U.S. president — and the media took copious notes. In some ways, the excitement around the trial was a throwback to the political and legal scandals of the 1990s, when Clinton’s alleged sexual harassment and illicit affairs led to lawsuits, investigations and impeachment. Then, as now, there was breathless interest from the press, aw-shucks reporting of salacious details, palpable glee from late-night comedians.

But there’s also a crucial difference. The women at the center of the 1990s scandals, Paula Jones, who sued Clinton for sexual harassment in the mid-1990s, and Monica Lewinsky, the intern at the center of Clinton’s impeachment, were mocked and belittled, frequently dismissed, dragged unwittingly into the arena and left to suffer there alone. At one memorable point in the saga, Jones broke down crying at a press conference; the spotlight was too harsh, the pressure was too much.

There is no way to look at Trump's poll numbers or approval rating and believe that Trump's trials are making him a sympathetic figure with anyone outside of the Republican base. https://t.co/nMWpTUdvId

— James Surowiecki (@JamesSurowiecki) May 10, 2024

Michael Tomasky/The New Republic;

Tim Scott’s Stated Willingness to Crush Democracy Is an Ominous Moment

We crossed another Rubicon this week with these veep wannabees parroting Donald Trump’s line about not accepting election results.

As you’ve probably read, Scott was on Meet the Press Sunday and, under questioning from host Kristen Welker, refused six times to say he’d accept the election results. The things he did say were ludicrous: “This is an issue that is not an issue so I’m not going to make it an issue.” “I’m not going to answer your hypothetical question when, in fact, I believe the American people are speaking today on the results of the election.” “This is why so many Americans believe that NBC is an extension of the Democrat Party.”

The same day, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum ran for the hills when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him about potential political violence after the election. He spat out some evasive nonsense about how the important thing about the election is that “both sides feel good about how it was counted.” We all know what that means: If one party (gee, which one?) doesn’t “feel good” about the vote count, then violence might be justified.

These are, in one way, dismissible men. But these are not dismissible comments. This is new. And it’s worth thinking about.

That first part is pretty notable. Abortion-rights measures have passed but haven’t hit 60% in similarly situated states. (FL has a higher threshold.)

— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) May 10, 2024

Walter Shapiro/The New Republic:

No, the 2024 Election Won’t Be Anything Like 1968

The election will be a challenge for Joe Biden. But looking to the past won’t help him—or us—understand what lies ahead.

But the closer you look at the turbulent history of 1968, the more it reflects the 2024 presidential race with the accuracy of a funhouse mirror.

For all the horrors in Gaza, that war is a distant echo for most Americans—unlike Vietnam where nearly 17,000 U.S. soldiers died in 1968. Moreover, young men, unless they had the resources to obtain a deferment by going to college, were subject to the military draft.

Few presidential candidates have been as hapless as Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee after Lyndon Johnson abandoned his reelection campaign in late March of 1968. Historian Luke Nichter’s recent book on the 1968 election, The Year That Broke Politics, reveals that LBJ preferred Nixon over his own vice president—and undermined Humphrey at every turn. It wasn’t until late September that Humphrey, who kept begging for Johnson’s approval, had the temerity to call for a bombing halt in Vietnam without preconditions, which was a minor dissent from the administration’s position.

Latest sign of Trump and MAGA media's campaign against Kennedy: Hannity is airing oppo research clips of "BERNIE 2.0" and saying "a vote for RFK Jr... is a vote for a slightly younger Bernie Sanders" pic.twitter.com/RINQPXYDgV

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 11, 2024

Andrew Sanders/MSN:

CNN: Trump Has Succeeded In Being ‘Casual About Violence’

CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem expressed concerns about former President Donald Trump using the threat of violence to rally support for the 2024 election.

She highlighted the normalization of violence as an extension of democratic differences and emphasized the potential impact on the election.

Kayyem warned about the permissive atmosphere created by the lack of condemnation from Trump’s party and the potential consequences if he were to win the presidency. (Trending: Joe Biden Emailed Hunter’s Business Associates 54 Times)

“It’s about to be 2024. We are running into an election period in which violence and the threat of violence are sort of viewed as an extension of our normal democratic differences,” Kayyem said.

“This is one of the successes of what Donald Trump has been able to do, is to sort of be kind of casual about violence.”

NEW! “The judgment of conviction and sentence under 2 U.S.C. § 192 is affirmed.” DC appeal court panel UPHOLDS Steve Bannon contempt of Congress criminal conviction. His prison sentence was stayed pending appeals court review

— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) May 10, 2024

Chris Brennan/USA Today:

Noncitizens can't vote in federal elections. Trump and the GOP hope you don't know that.

Republicans are again pushing unsubstantiated claims about noncitizens voting in federal elections

[Speaker Mike] Johnson and his election-denying schemers were pushing the new Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act, which would require proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections.

Sounds harmless, right? That's true if you don't know much about voting rights issues.

But like laws that some states have enacted requiring voters to show identification at polling places, this act completely ignores the fact that not everyone who is eligible to vote has access to the documents needed to establish their identity.

The best and funniest book review ever of a book not to read. Bet you can guess it’s about Noem killing her 14-month old dog.https://t.co/NIT8LiOiPe

— Jill Wine-Banks (now on Threads as jillwinebanks) (@JillWineBanks) May 10, 2024

Daily Mail:

Nancy Mace says staff 'sabotaged' her: Republican accuses ex-aides of mismanaging $1million, hacking her phone, spying on medical records and dumping office devices in water in extraordinary interview

  • Mace says her new staff are still repairing the damage left behind by her 'sabotaging' former aides
  • 'This seems to be stemming from paranoia and trust issues,' one former staffer said. 'She's clearly unwell and I hope she gets help'

Reps. Mace (South Carolina) and Victoria Spartz (Indiana) are the two House Republicans that can be counted on to switch positions hourly. For some reason, Mace gets labeled as a moderate, when there not only aren’t any in the GOP, but she clearly isn’t one. For that reason, she’s worth the extra attention.

Right. "To me, 'balanced' journalism doesn’t mean coverage that makes the candidates look equal, it means coverage that applies the same standards to both candidates." —@jamisonfoserhttps://t.co/UkK5HwUsUG

— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) May 10, 2024

Steerpike/The Spectator:

Listen: Houchen turns on Sunak

When it rains for the Tories, it pours. Now Tees Valley’s Conservative mayor Ben Houchen has hit out at his party’s leadership – just 24 hours after yet another Tory MP defected to Labour. The re-elected Conservative mayor this morning admitted the path to Tory electoral victory is ‘getting narrower by the day’ before adding, in more bad news for poor Rishi Sunak, that ‘ultimately it all rests on the shoulders of the leader.’ Talk about trouble in paradise…

In a series of damning remarks made during an interview on BBC Radio Tees today, Houchen seemed rather downcast on the topic of his party’s prospects. ‘Things don’t look great for the Conservative party at the moment,’ he told the station. But while admitting that ‘all responsibility goes back to the top’, the Tees Valley mayor had some home truths for his parliamentary colleagues:

Oh, and by the way, speaking of the UK …

Labour secures biggest polling lead since Liz Truss era The party is 30 points ahead of the Conservatives — another setback for Rishi Sunak after the local election resultshttps://t.co/1lXAWRZZJg

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) May 10, 2024

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: A Good Week for America—and Joe Biden

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet.

Jennifer Rubin/Washington Post:

A rotten week for MAGA Republicans’ feeble stunts

In dismissing the articles of impeachment with a party-line vote, Senate Democrats ignored crocodile tears from the likes of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who voted against the most meritorious impeachment in history following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — that dismissing an impeachment before trial would create a bad precedent (unlike letting an insurrectionist off the hook?). Schumer deserves credit for nipping in the bud the GOP-controlled House’s abuse of power.

When Republicans blatantly liedisregard their oaths and — to borrow a phrase — weaponize government, Democrats have an obligation to call them out. That entails refusing to take Republican antics seriously. When hearings and investigations obviously lack good faith, the Democrats can uphold the stature of Congress by simply walking away and refusing to play these games.

👀 More Gonzales: "Look, Matt Gaetz, he paid minors to have sex with him at drug parties,  Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi. These people used to walk around with white hoods at night, now they are walking around with white hoods in the daytime”

— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) April 21, 2024

David Frum/The Atlantic:

Trump Deflates

It wasn’t just Putin who lost in the House vote on Ukraine aid.

Ukraine won. Trump lost.

The House vote to aid Ukraine renews hope that Ukraine can still win its war. It also showed how and why Donald Trump should lose the 2024 election.

For nine years, Trump has dominated the Republican Party. Senators might have loathed him, governors might have despised him, donors might have ridiculed him, college-educated Republican voters might have turned against him—but LOL, nothing mattered. Enough of the Republican base supported him. Everybody else either fell in line, retired from politics, or quit the party…

At the beginning of this year, Trump was able even to blow up the toughest immigration bill seen in decades—simply to deny President Joe Biden a bipartisan win. Individual Senate Republicans might grumble, but with Trump opposed, the border-security deal disintegrated.

Three months later, Trump’s party in Congress has rebelled against him—and not on a personal payoff to some oddball Trump loyalist, but on one of Trump’s most cherished issues, his siding with Russia against Ukraine.

So now the GOP is the party of isolationism, international weakness, and Putin. Congrats. I’m sure Ronald Reagan would be proud of you — not! https://t.co/qS8oICs2Pf

— Stuart Rothenberg (@StuPolitics) April 20, 2024

That’s not just a throwaway line. Indies and moderate voters dislike Putin and support Ukraine. Republicans including Trump risk a lot in this election by bucking what normal Americans want.

When I was coming up in politics, I was drawn to the "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" party. Today, the party of strength is the Democratic party. If the Democrats can sustain this identity and purpose, it will redefine American politics for decades. This is a return to… https://t.co/ByS4owhXQC

— Stuart Stevens (@stuartpstevens) April 22, 2024

POLITICO:

How large parts of Trump’s trial are playing out in the shadows

Critical aspects of the case have been shielded from the media and the public.

Behind the scenes, a maze of arcane rules and archaic systems has made it virtually impossible for the media — and the public — to access key motions and pretrial rulings in real time. New York’s docketing practices have not been updated for the digital age. The judge, Justice Juan Merchan, has imposed policies that force days or even weeks of delays before crucial documents become public. When they do, they have been subject to a heavy, court-imposed redaction process.

And Merchan frequently uses email to communicate with Trump’s defense lawyers and the prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office. That’s led to a ballooning set of off-the-book messages that are shielded from the public.

The result is that one of the most consequential chapters of American history is being drafted with missing pages and invisible ink.

I suspect the public is less bothered by this than reporters (who are not wrong). The trial starts today, and that’s more important than anything else.

Our poll also finds RFK Jr.'s candidacy hurting Trump more than Biden, which contrasts with other polling https://t.co/QfQB1p2dAy pic.twitter.com/Vw4uVYqdy9

— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) April 21, 2024

POLITICO Magazine:

‘We Just Finally Saw the Dam Break’: How House Republicans Embraced the Chaos

Veteran Rep. Tom Cole is fed up with his party’s insurgents.

In press shorthand, Cole is usually described as an institutionalist, and since the tea party era, he’s also been known for butting heads with his more rambunctious, often newer colleagues on the far right.

Today’s antagonism toward House leadership stems from “a lack of respect for the institution and the wisdom of the institution,” he said. Speaking of the bomb-throwers, he added, “You know, you’ve got to grow up.”

Cole is also a member of the Chickasaw Nation, a trained historian and as a cigar aficionado, literally a devotee of Washington’s smoke-filled back rooms.

On this week’s episode of Playbook Deep Dive, we got deep into the weeds of why the Rules Committee has been such a trouble spot for recent GOP speakers and whether Cole thinks Johnson can hang on as members threaten to oust him. I also had Cole answer some prying questions from some of his favorite historians on the subject of Donald Trump.

Rep. Derrick Van Orden said he told Matt Gaetz to "kick rocks, tubby." "Matt Gaetz is a bully. Chip Roy is a bully. Bob Good's a bully. And the only way to stop a bully is to push back hard." Gaetz says that Van Orden is "not a particularly intelligent individual" pic.twitter.com/3IHeqIMKJP

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 21, 2024

The New York Times does its New York Times thing of mitigating any negative to Trump stories that they can:

Will a Mountain of Evidence Be Enough to Convict Trump?

Monday will see opening statements in the People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump. The state’s case seems strong, but a conviction is far from assured.

Though the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has assembled a mountain of evidence, a conviction is hardly assured. Over the next six weeks, Mr. Trump’s lawyers will seize on three apparent weak points: a key witness’s credibility, a president’s culpability and the case’s legal complexity.

Prosecutors will seek to maneuver around those vulnerabilities, dazzling the jury with a tale that mixes politics and sex, as they confront a shrewd defendant with a decades-long track record of skirting legal consequences. They will also seek to bolster the credibility of that key witness, Michael D. Cohen, a former fixer to Mr. Trump who previously pleaded guilty to federal crimes for paying the porn star, Stormy Daniels.

It’s showtime, baby. Watch the sparkly stone, avoid the tough questions about trying to throw an election.

But the news in this story is the DA will open with David Pecker. And pecker is the key witness, not Michael Cohen.

4/ Here's the passage from the NY Indictment indicating the evidence the DA - including through Pecker's own testimony - can present re the August 2015 Trump Tower meeting, which set the whole scheme in motion. link: https://t.co/n4YNsBYJhn pic.twitter.com/PpIrMJAYrg

— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) April 21, 2024

Contrast and compare the typical Washington Post/New York Times political coverage with this from Dan Froomkin/Press Watch:

An interview with a newsroom leader who speaks the truth about Donald Trump

A few weeks ago, the editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chris Quinn, became an instant hero to the legion of news consumers who are fed up with the media’s refusal to call Donald Trump what he is.

In his weekly “letter from the editor,” under the headline “Our Trump reporting upsets some readers, but there aren’t two sides to facts,” Quinn wrote:

The north star here is truth. We tell the truth, even when it offends some of the people who pay us for information.

The truth is that Donald Trump undermined faith in our elections in his false bid to retain the presidency. He sparked an insurrection intended to overthrow our government and keep himself in power. No president in our history has done worse.

He continued, bluntly:

As for those who equate Trump and Joe Biden, that’s false equivalency. Biden has done nothing remotely close to the egregious, anti-American acts of Trump.

It was a brilliant clarion call against dishonest both-sidesing in political journalism, and it went viral. The response, as he wrote a week later, was overwhelming – and overwhelmingly positive.

Yuh-huh. Via Playbook. pic.twitter.com/TfSoIrGg12

— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) April 21, 2024

POLITICO:

Trump’s New York trial is knocking him off balance

While the former president was stuck in court, his opponent hit the trail.

For the first time in months, despite his many legal entanglements in New York and elsewhere, it was Trump, not his opponent, President Joe Biden, who seemed to have been thrown off balance, constrained by a judge’s schedule and gag orders as he whipsawed between the courtroom and the functions of his campaign.

And even Trump seemed to acknowledge the liability that the trial was becoming for him — and likely will be for weeks more as the general election campaign picks up and, simultaneously, his court proceedings drag on.

April 22: Trial begins April 22: NYAG $175M Bond hearing April 23: Gag order hearing April 24: Nauta grand jury transcript April 25: SCOTUS immunity arguments

— Mueller, She Wrote (@MuellerSheWrote) April 20, 2024

Hicks and Pecker. Sounds like a new restaurant. It's actually a likely early witness list for Trump's trials.

Cliff Schecter covers what the political pundits gloss over:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The aftermath

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet.

We begin today with Annie Karni of The New York Times writing that House Speaker Mike Johnson now has a status within the Republican Party equivalent to former Vice President Mike Pence due to the House passage of funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan yesterday.

When Mr. Pence refused former President Donald J. Trump’s demands that he overturn the 2020 election results as he presided over the electoral vote count by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 — even as an angry mob with baseball bats and pepper spray invaded the Capitol and chanted “hang Mike Pence” — the normally unremarkable act of performing the duties in a vice president’s job description was hailed as courageous. [...]

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Pence, both mild-mannered, extremely conservative evangelical Christians who have put their faith at the center of their politics, occupy a similar space in their party. They have both gone through contortions to accommodate Mr. Trump and the forces he unleashed in their party, which in turn have ultimately come after them. Mr. Pence spent four years dutifully serving the former president and defending all of his words and actions. Mr. Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, played a lead role in trying to overturn the election results on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

I’ll give Ms. Karni the “in their party” observation. But Mike Pence was quite sure that he would be breaking the law if he did as the shoe salesman asked him to do when he presided over the counting of electoral vote on Jan. 6, 2021 and to the extent that he wasn’t 100% sure, Mike Luttig and former Vice President Dan Quayle told him that Trump’s request was unconstitutional.

Speaker Johnson was trying to get needed security funding passed after delay after delay after delay and in defiance of the right flank of his party. Many people in the political world underestimated his ability to do it. So I’ll toss Johnson a cookie and say job well done but still...that does not make him Churchill.

Olivia Beavers and Jordain Carney of POLITICO report that Speaker Johnson has staved off a challenge to his speakership for now.

That could go two ways for Johnson. Tempers could cool as lawmakers return to their districts for a week and focus on their constituents and reelection bids. Or members, particularly in deep-red districts, hear more from an angry base — prompting more members to entertain action against Johnson.

Greene and Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, the second Republican to back ousting Johnson, are betting it’s the latter. And they reiterated their promises on Saturday that Johnson will ultimately face a choice: resign or face a referendum. [...]

Despite the intense fury among conservatives, some say they still won’t support the so-called motion to vacate. But if Johnson gets booted and goes for the gavel again, or tries to run to lead the GOP again next term, they said they wouldn’t support his bid.

David Frum of The Atlantic writes that the passage of the Ukraine funding bill in the House is yet another Trump loss on a policy issue and a sign of the shoe salesman’s diminished status.

The anti-Trump, pro-Ukraine rebellion started in the Senate. Twenty-two Republicans joined Democrats to approve aid to Ukraine in February. Dissident House Republicans then threatened to force a vote if the Republican speaker would not schedule one. Speaker Mike Johnson declared himself in favor of Ukraine aid. This weekend, House Republicans split between pro-Ukraine and anti-Ukraine factions. On Friday, the House voted 316–94 in favor of the rule on the aid vote. On Saturday, the aid to Ukraine measure passed the House by 311–112. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will adopt the House-approved aid measures unamended and speed them to President Biden for signature.

As defeat loomed for his anti-Ukraine allies, Trump shifted his message a little. On April 18, he posted on Truth Social claiming that he, too, favored helping Ukraine. “As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us!” But that was after-the-fact face-saving, jumping to the winning side after his side was about to lose. [...]

To make an avalanche takes more than one tumbling rock. Still, the pro-Ukraine, anti-Trump vote in the House is a very, very big rock. On something that mattered intensely to him—that had become a badge of pro-Trump identity—Trump’s own party worked with Democrats in the House and Senate to hand him a stinging defeat. This example could become contagious.

Renée Graham of The Boston Globe looks upon the criminal trial of the shoe salesman with some sadness.

So after months of delays due to Trump’s run-out-the-clock legal strategy, having the former president on trial is both overdue and welcome.

But it’s the latest disorienting moment exacted on this country since Trump’s literal descent into politics in 2015 with his first first presidential run. We have endured two impeachments; a deadly insurrection; his fanboying of murderous dictators; unveiled threats of retribution against his perceived enemies; and a profane disregard for the pillars of American democracy.

Now there’s the twisted possibility of a presumptive Republican presidential nominee also being a convicted felon. And despite this, tens of millions of people, mostly his fellow Republicans, including those like Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, who once pretended he could never support Trump, will vote to return to the White House the man who once called it “a real dump.”

It’s a disturbingly sad state of affairs.

Luis Feliz Leon writes for his labor blog Labor Notes (reprinted by In These Times) about the historic victory of workers who have voted to unionize at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The United Auto Workers is riding a wave of momentum after winning landmark contracts at the Big Three automakers last year. Production workers at Volkswagen earn $23 per hour and top out above $32, compared to $43 for production workers at Ford’s Spring Hill assembly plant by the contract’s end in 2028. [...]

To head off a union drive, Volkswagen boosted wages 11% to match the immediate raise UAW members received at Ford. Peoples saw her pay jump from $29 to $32 an hour. [...]

The vote was a key test of whether the union could springboard the strike gains to propel new organizing in longtime anti-union bastions in the South, the anchors of big investments in the electric-vehicle transition.

The vote was 2,628 in favor of forming a union to 985 against. There were seven challenged ballots, and three voided; 4,326 workers were eligible to vote.

Edward Russell of The Washington Post report that construction is about to begin on a high-speed rail line connecting Las Vegas to a suburb of Los Angeles.

Travelers have a lot to look forward to. Electric trains will depart every 45 minutes from a Las Vegas station south of the city’s storied Strip and a Southern California station in Rancho Cucamonga, a Los Angeles suburb about 40 miles east of downtown.

Traveling at up to 186 mph — faster than any other train in the United States — Brightline West trains will make the 218-mile trip in about 2 hours and 10 minutes. [...]

Other high-speed railroads that would carry passengers at 200 mph and faster are in the works in California, Texas and the Pacific Northwest.

Driving between Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas takes at least three hours without traffic, according to Google Maps.

David Remnick of The New Yorker tries to make sense of the Iran-Israel kerfuffle as the Netanyahu government continues its destruction of Gaza.

There is no way to know whether another volley will be coming in the short term, but what is clear is that the decades-long shadow war between Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran is no longer confined to the shadows. A line was crossed when Israel carried out a lethal air strike on Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a leading commander in Iran’s Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and six of his associates, who were meeting in a consular building in Damascus. That strike, as precise as it was deadly, was followed by Iran’s massive launch of drones and ballistic missiles on Israeli territory—an attack that was thoroughly repelled by a coördinated effort involving Israel, the United States, Britain, Jordan, the U.A.E., and Saudi Arabia.

By deploying such a relatively mild response near Isfahan, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, seemingly attempted to thread a kind of political needle, at once mollifying the Biden Administration and the Sunni Arab leaders to avoid a regional escalation and yet satisfying his domestic political allies who demanded that he “do something.” Indeed, the Iranian leadership decided to absorb the latest attack with theatrical cool. State television showed “life as usual” footage in the area and insisted that the regime’s nuclear and military sites in the region were undamaged.

Zia Ur Rehman of Deutsche Welle reports on the chill in the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The relationship between the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan's government has been growing more and more strained since the fall of Kabul in August 2021.

Many experts attribute the current tensions to the increase in cross-border terrorism originating from Afghanistan.

But some of Islamabad's recent actions have also embittered the Taliban regime — last year, Pakistan enforced trade restrictions on its neighboring country, expelled 500,000 undocumented Afghan migrants , and implemented stricter visa policies at border crossings. [...]

As ties with Pakistan cool, the Taliban administration is forging new partnerships.

Western powers remain hesitant, but other players such as China, Russia, Iran, India, and some Central Asian states are cautiously engaging with the regime.

Finally today, I ate breakfast at a local restaurant yesterday and was quite audible saying things like “she is nuts” as I was reading George Parker’s batsh*t crazy interview with former British prime minister Liz Truss in The Financial Times.

Truss explains that she is having Lunch with the FT because “you’ve got to know the enemy” — before clarifying that she doesn’t regard the FT as part of the deep state per se, more a kind of flying buttress propping it up. Along with other sinister elements in a leftwing “anti-growth coalition” — she has singled out “Brexit deniers”, people with podcasts and those living in north London town houses — the FT apparently helped to ensure that Truss’s time in Downing Street famously had the longevity of a supermarket lettuce.

Liz is one step away from talking about Jewish space lasers, y’all!

Have the best possible day everyone!

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: We have our jury

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet.

The Washington Post:

The U.S. just changed how it manages a tenth of its land

The Interior Department rule puts conservation and clean energy development on par with drilling, mining and resource extraction on federal lands for the first time

The final rule released Thursday represents a seismic shift in the management of roughly 245 million acres of public property — about one-tenth of the nation’s land mass. It is expected to draw praise from conservationists and legal challenges from fossil fuel industry groups and Republican officials, some of whom have lambasted the move as a “land grab.”

Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, known as the nation’s largest landlord, has long offered leases to oil and gas companies, mining firms and ranchers. Now, for the first time, the nearly 80-year-old agency will auction off “restoration leases” and “mitigation leases” to entities with plans to restore or conserve public lands.

A prospective juror, talking about who he follows on Twitter, tells the court, “Let’s go with Twitter, I don’t call it X.”

— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) April 18, 2024

The New York Times:

After Reports About Trump Jurors, Judge Demands Restraint From the Press

Some news reports have included details about jurors that had been aired in open court. One was excused after she developed concerns about being identified.

The judge in former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial ordered reporters to not disclose employment information about potential jurors after he excused a woman who said she was worried about her identity becoming known.

The woman, who had been seated on the jury on Tuesday, told the judge that her friends and colleagues had warned her that she had been identified as a juror in the high-profile case. Although the judge has kept prospective jurors’ names private, some have disclosed their employers and other identifying information in court.

She also said that she did not believe she could be impartial.

The judge, Juan M. Merchan, promptly dismissed her.

Moments later, Justice Merchan ordered the press to not report the answer to two queries on a lengthy questionnaire for prospective jurors: “Who is your current employer?” and “Who was your prior employer?”

They have 12 jurors as of Thursday afternoon and an alternate, and are now selecting the other five alternates.

Arye Deri and Moshe Gafni have both relayed to Netanyahu their rabbis’ warnings against launching an attack on Iran without coordination with the US. It’s a rare ultra-Orthodox intervention in security matters which could mean 3 things >

— Anshel Pfeffer אנשיל פפר (@AnshelPfeffer) April 18, 2024

3 The Haredi politicians are Netanyahu’s most loyal partners. If they’ve let it be known their rabbis are against attacking Iran, it’s because Netanyahu wants this to be known. He doesn’t want to rush an attack but he needs political cover from the far-right who are demanding it.

— Anshel Pfeffer אנשיל פפר (@AnshelPfeffer) April 18, 2024

Last night there was a limited attack on Iran. But:

It appears that the attack in Iran was executed through glide bombs. That is important, because those were likely launched not from Israel but elsewhere. In addition, they can’t be traced through radar. This goes with the radio silence from Israel. Meanwhile, an IDF source told…

— Shaiel Ben-Ephraim (@academic_la) April 19, 2024

Here is the full tweet above:

It appears that the attack in Iran was executed through glide bombs. That is important, because those were likely launched not from Israel but elsewhere. In addition, they can’t be traced through radar. This goes with the radio silence from Israel. Meanwhile, an IDF source told FOX News the operation was “limited.” What the attack was going for is plausible deniability. That will allow Iran to pretend this isn’t a big deal and react without major escalation. Iran seems to be playing along so far. That would also go with approval from the United States, which seems to have been obtained a day in advance.

Joe Perticone/The Bulwark:

Mike Johnson Finds a Way, Despite the Odds Plus: The shortest and silliest impeachment trial in history.

For some background on the unique process by which Johnson is going about this, see Tuesday’s edition of Press Pass. Today, I want to catch you up on the events that have unfolded since Johnson unveiled the four-bills-one-rule plan. Given the way the 118th Congress has functioned so far—it has been among the least effective Congresses in modern history—we may be on the verge of seeing a clever maneuver to circumvent the members who have been holding the chamber hostage.

Since Johnson laid his cards on the table on Monday, the individual bill texts have been released. The toplines are as follows:

Johnson created a plan that insulates him from potential scheming and alterations by the Senate, while structuring a package that essentially includes what has already passed the upper chamber.

Rep. Moskowitz's amendments to the Ukraine aid bill: 1. Rename Marjorie Taylor-Greene's office to the Neville Chamberlain Room 2. Appoint Marjorie Taylor-Greene as Vladimir Putin's Special Envoy to the US pic.twitter.com/Ep6Pfq6Vo7

— Kareem Rifai 🌐 (@KareemRifai) April 18, 2024

POLITICO:

Party leaders try to break standoff over Johnson's foreign aid package

The Rules Committee hasn't yet returned from a break, as Democrats and Republicans negotiate how to move the four bills to the floor.

In exchange for helping circumvent the conservatives, Democrats are hoping they’ll be able to extract concessions from the other side of the aisle and are actively talking with Republicans, according to those people. But it’s not clear what, if anything, Johnson would give them for helping bring the bills to the floor. Democrats have called on him to bring Ukraine aid, in particular, to the floor for months.

“I think Democrats will act in a manner that's incredibly united once we see the rule and see what it says,” Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.), who sits on the Rules committee, told POLITICO Thursday when the meeting recessed.

She wouldn’t comment directly on whether Democrats have heard from Johnson, but added, “I hear that [Johnson] has put a lot of time and thinking into this.”

Simon Rosenberg/”The Hopium Chronicles” on Substack looks at the newest Harvard IOP Youth Poll:

Winning Arizona, Making Calls For Ukraine, A Good Youth Poll, A Bluer 2024 Election

Note that the poll breaks out “likely voters” from “registered voters,” which is important as so many young people don’t end up voting. Some initial takeaways from me:

  • 18-29 year old vote intention is about the same as it was in the spring of 2020, a very high youth turnout year.

  • Biden leads 56-39 (+19) among voters 18-29 year olds likely to vote. He won 18-29 year old voters by 60-36 in 2020, so off a bit but with work we can match our 2020 results. As I say here every day, some of our coalition is wandering now, and we need to go get them back. To repeat - this result is neither suprising, or worrisome.

  • The data on Israel-Gaza is consistent with what I’ve been writing here - while an important issue, it is unlikely to be a voting issue for a large number of young people this fall: “When young Americans are asked whether or not they believe Israel's response so far to the October 7 attack by Hamas has been justified, a plurality indicates that they don't know (45%). About a fifth (21%) report that Israel's response was justified with 32% believing it was not justified.”

I also found this section to be particularly interesting: “Among the 1,051 "likely voters" in our sample, we found significant differences in support levels based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education levels, among other subgroups.

'Never bring James Comer to a Jamie Raskin fight': Republican skewered over testy battle https://t.co/zdppIo1Tv8

— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) April 18, 2024

Will Bunch/The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Fear and loathing on America’s college campuses as free speech is disappearing

Student activists say fear and paranoia has descended on college campus around free speech as college administrators cave into a new brand of McCarthyism.

Student activists told me they feel constantly watched, either by university officials they think are monitoring their Wi-Fi or watching from omnipresent cameras — or by pro-Israel outside groups that have “doxxed” the personal information of pro-Palestinian protesters.

This week’s jarring news out of the University of Southern California that its Muslim valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, would not be allowed to give her upcoming commencement speech because of what the school called “safety concerns” — after some critics had singled out some of her X/Twitter posts over Palestine — gave the rest of America a window into what students and some of their professors have been saying for months: Free speech and political expression at U.S. universities is facing its greatest threat since the 1950s “Red Scare” and the heyday of McCarthyism.

Two Carleton College professors who write frequently and host a podcast around questions of academic freedom actually argue the current crisis is even worse than that dark era.

The odds of Republicans losing AZ on all levels this year just continues to increase, quite frankly. https://t.co/lc0ZTXpG8y

— Chaz Nuttycombe (@ChazNuttycombe) April 17, 2024

Hannah Metzger/Westword:

Abortion Ban Fails to Qualify for Ballot: "Colorado Is Not a Place Where You Can Mess With Our Reproductive Freedom"

On the same day, an abortion rights initiative submitted nearly double the signatures needed for the November election.

An initiative seeking to ban abortion will not appear on Colorado's ballot in November after the campaign failed to collect enough legitimate signatures to qualify. The campaign behind Initiative 81: Protections for a Living Child says it collected "tens of thousands of signatures" but fell short of the 124,238 it needed to turn in by April 18. If approved by voters, the ballot measure would have banned abortion at any point after conception, classifying it as homicide. "God gave us a choice between life and death for our state," Faye Barnhart, who co-led the campaign, said in a statement. "Many didn’t have the faith or vision to see this amazing window of opportunity to lead our state to choose life. We mourn the loss of these children’s lives because we didn’t do everything we could to save them." The anti-abortion measure's failure comes on the same day that a pro-abortion-rights campaign says it turned in nearly 240,000 signatures in support of another proposed ballot measure, Initiative 89: Right to Abortion. That proposal asks voters to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution, and also allow state funds — including Medicaid and state employee health insurance — to be used to pay for abortions.

It takes 55% to pass, since it’s a constitutional amendment.

NEW: House Rules Committee just voted 9-3 to advance the foreign aid package to the House floor. In a rare turn, Democrats voted with most of the GOP, while Reps. Massie, Norman and Roy voted no.

— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) April 19, 2024

The last time this happened was nearly thirty years ago.

Cliff Schecter on the media’s OJ trial coverage and its relevance today:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Arizona embraces the culture wars on the losing side

New York Times:

Abortion Jumps to the Center of Arizona’s Key 2024 Races

Democrats quickly aimed to capitalize on a ruling by the state’s highest court upholding an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions.

Democrats seized on a ruling on Tuesday by Arizona’s highest court upholding an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions, setting up a fierce political fight over the issue that is likely to dominate the presidential election and a pivotal Senate race in a crucial battleground state.

Even though the court put its ruling on hold for now, President Biden and his campaign moved quickly to blame former President Donald J. Trump for the loss of abortion rights, noting that he has taken credit for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned a constitutional right to abortion. Just a day earlier, Mr. Trump had sought to defang what has become a toxic issue for Republicans by saying that abortion restrictions should be decided by the states and their voters.

Remember, abortion is fading in saliency as an issue, say umpteen anonymous male Republican consultants.

Abortion opponents still expect federal action from Trump. Here’s what it could look like. https://t.co/qRSWDVhK1T

— Mike Walker (@New_Narrative) April 10, 2024

Dan Balz/Washington Post:

The Arizona Supreme Court just upended Trump’s gambit on abortion

On Monday, Trump declined to support a national abortion ban, seeking to neutralize the political issue. A day later, Arizona’s ban gave it new life.

On Monday, the former president declined to support any new national law setting limits on abortions. Going against the views of many abortion opponents in his Republican Party, Trump was looking for a way to neutralize or at least muddy a galvanizing issue that has fueled Democratic victories for nearly two years. He hoped to keep it mostly out of the conversation ahead of the November elections.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Supreme Court showed just how difficult it will be to do that. The court resurrected an 1864 law that bans nearly all abortions, except to save the life of the mother. The law also imposes penalties on abortion providers.

Trump had said let the states handle the issue. The Arizona court showed the full implications of that states’ rights strategy.

Or, if you will, Arizona Supreme Court destroys news organization plans to declare the abortion issue neutralized (it wasn’t).

Get this measure on the Arizona ballot. Run in every district. Then flip Arizona blue at every level (only one seat shy of a Dem majority in the AZ statehouse) https://t.co/MWH1zmwJMv

— David Pepper (@DavidPepper) April 10, 2024

Marc A Caputo/ The Bulwark:

MAGA Takes Aim at RFK Jr.: ‘Radical F—ing Kennedy’

They turned on him overnight once they realized he’d be a threat to Trump and not only to Biden.

TRUMP ADVISERS QUIETLY acknowledge they and the right helped build up RFK Jr., especially after the pandemic when Kennedy’s anti-vaccine activism gained broader attention and support among conservatives.

“For more than two years, Kennedy was on more conservative media than any of the Republicans who ran for president, so he’s partly a monster of our own making,” said one adviser in Trump’s orbit. “But the same conservative media apparatus that built him up is starting to tear him down. It’s easy. He’s a liberal.”

That cocksure sentiment pervades Trump’s campaign, where they view Kennedy more as an opportunity than a danger.

Matt Bennett, executive vice president of Third Way, said Kennedy has benefited from his famous last name, his savvy social media use, and his lack of a political record. Bennett doesn’t think the candidate will be able to withstand the scrutiny that’s coming now that the threat he represents has become clearer.

“Kennedy is in for a rough ride. We need to make sure lower-information voters don’t somehow think, ‘Oh, it’s his dad.’ Or that he’s a safe pair of hands,” Bennett said. “He’s a lunatic. He lies. He’s a bad person.”

If you constructed a Venn diagram of states important to the presidential race, the Senate, or abortion access this November, Arizona would be smack in the overlapping middle. https://t.co/Ts784gkO60

— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) April 9, 2024

Will Bunch/Philadelphia Inquirer:

Is Team Trump meddling in the Middle East?

This weekend, the endless gusher of petrodollars from Riyadh left their oily mark on the dim jewel of Trump’s fast-fading empire, the Trump National Doral course outside of Miami. There, the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour brought yet another televised and star-studded tournament to a resort owned by the 45th president’s business arm.

We don’t how much the LIV tour — largely a creation of the massive sovereign wealth fund controlled by the Saudi dictator Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) — paid the Trump Organization for the three-day event. The LIV people insist the money is nominal, but no one would argue that the widely seen tournaments are propping up Trump’s coffers at a time when his hotel brand is in the loo, and the established PGA golf tour is avoiding the ex-POTUS and his 88 felony charges.

What every anti-abortion politician in America is reading this morning as they call their pollster and ask them how to pretend this is not their position: pic.twitter.com/5xCANDelcz

— Cole Leiter (@coleleiter) April 10, 2024

David Gilbert/Wired:

Inside the Election Denial Groups Planning to Disrupt November

Groups like True the Vote and Michael Flynn’s America Project want to mobilize thousands of Trump supporters by pushing baseless claims about election fraud—and are rolling out new technology to fast-track their efforts.

As the most consequential presidential election in a generation looms in the United States, get-out-the-vote efforts across the country are more important than ever. But multiple far-right activist groups with ties to former president Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee are mobilizing their supporters in earnest, drawing on one baseline belief: Elections in the US are rigged, and citizens need to do something about it.

All the evidence states otherwise. But in recent weeks, these groups have held training sessions about how to organize on a hyperlocal level to monitor polling places and drop boxes, challenge voter registrations en masse, and intimidate and harass voters and election officials. And some are preparing to roll out new technology to fast-track all of these efforts: One of the groups claims they’re launching a new platform for checking voter rolls that contains billions of “data elements” on every single US citizen.

Yet another W for patience and uncertainty. It’s never a hot take, but it’s always where the smart money is this early in the campaign. FWIW, if Biden jumps out to a non-negligible lead in the next few months, I wouldn’t be so fast to pop the champagne just yet either. https://t.co/QhyD17GAoj

— Adam Carlson (@admcrlsn) April 9, 2024

Jennifer Rubin/Washington Post:

Don’t overlook these five aspects of Trump’s N.Y. trial

Trump’s first impeachment seems like ancient history. But House impeachment investigators interviewed Hope Hicks and Michael Cohen, and delved into the facts concerning payment to women to silence them before the 2016 election. The hush money scheme was grist for impeachment because procuring office by corrupt means can be a sufficient basis for impeachment.

Philip Bump/Washington Post:

How much time and money will the GOP waste chasing imaginary election fraud?

Fox host Maria Bartiromo has proved to be one of the most credulous members of the right-wing media universe. This was understood by her own employers in 2020 when one executive warned another that she had “GOP conspiracy theorists in her ear and they use her for their message sometimes.” In the wake of the 2020 election, she flirted with the most ridiculous fraud theories then circulating; more recently, she was a constant promoter of the discredited idea that Joe Biden had been bribed by a Ukrainian businessman.

Yet she also remains one of the most prominent voices on Fox News and Fox Business. One need not engage in conspiracy-theorizing to guess some reasons for that.

And finally, the exclamation point on this amazing college hoops season.

Iowa/SC women’s final outdrew the following:•Every World Series game since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series •Every NBA Finals game since Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals •Every Daytona 500 since 2006 •Every Masters final round viewership since 2001!!!!!!!

— Eric Segall (@espinsegall) April 9, 2024

Candace Buckner/Washington Post:

Connecticut unlocked the overwhelming beauty of a team game

More than other team sports, basketball thrives on individual talent. Singular stars fuel intrigue. They make us sit up and pay attention. And the superstars make us believe that one vs. five maintains pretty good odds. Then a night such as Monday comes along and wrecks the belief that you need a superstar to win.

Somewhere in the Purdue locker room sat [Perdue’s center Zach] Edey, his season having ended in disappointment, with a lonely shower awaiting. Meanwhile, the Connecticut Huskies were busy changing clothes on the court. Their new shirts read: “2024 Men’s Basketball National CHAMPS” — that word more prominent than the others.

Cliff Schecter covers General Mark Milley’s opinion of Donald Trump:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Revisiting election predictions

This prediction was from 2023 by David Frum/The Atlantic:

The Coming Biden Blowout

Republicans thought about running without Trump in 2024—but lost their nerve. They’re heading for electoral disaster again.

‘The Republican plan for 2024 is already failing, and the party leadership can see it and knows it.

There was no secret to a more intelligent and intentional Republican plan for 2024. It would have gone like this:

(1) Replace Donald Trump at the head of the ticket with somebody less obnoxious and impulsive.

(2) Capitalize on inflation and other economic troubles.

This one is from the last few days, from a podcast with Greg Sargent/The New Republic:

Why Trump’s Lunacy Is Suddenly Raising GOP Fears of Down-Ballot Losses

Republicans facing tough races seem to have realized that having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket might pose a problem. What took them so long?

GOP members of Congress facing tough races are suddenly worried that having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket might present them with a problem, according to new reports. They fear having to answer for Trump’s degeneracy and extremism, even as the GOP’s small-donor base is not delivering at the very moment that Trump is siphoning off party money for legal fees. What explains this sudden GOP epiphany about Trump? How likely is it that these fears will materialize? We chatted with Tim Persico, a top Democratic operative involved in House races in 2022, who provided insights into how this Trump effect really works.

House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good endorsed Derrick Evans, a convicted Capitol rioter, in his primary challenge against a sitting House Republican. https://t.co/1ezbnWrCvz

— Mike Walker (@New_Narrative) April 3, 2024

Rep. Carol Miller's spokeswoman responds to Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good endorsing her opponent in her West Virginia district primary. The GOP member v member tensions continue on the campaign trail: https://t.co/3STihhHsPw https://t.co/ZFXKXrFie5

— Marianna Sotomayor (@MariannaReports) April 3, 2024

Tom Nichols/The Atlantic:

Supporting Trump Means Supporting a Culture of Violence

The former president is encouraging threats against his enemies—again.

Over the weekend, Donald Trump sent out a video with an image of Joe Biden bound like a hostage, and linked to an article with a photo of the daughter of the judge in his hush-money trial in New York. Voters need to confront the reality of what supporting Trump means.

On Good Friday, Donald Trump shared a video that prominently featured a truck with a picture of a hog-tied Joe Biden on it. I’ve seen this art on a tailgate in person, and it looks like a kidnapped Biden is a captive in the truck bed.

The former president, running for his old office, knowingly transmitted a picture of the sitting president of the United States as a bound hostage.

Of course, Trump’s spokesperson Steven Cheung quickly began the minimizing and what-abouting: “That picture,” he said in a statement, “was on the back of a pick up truck that was traveling down the highway. Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.”

POLITICO:

Hill GOP to Trump: Tamp down the talk of grudges and Jan. 6

They’re concerned about a rerun of the hair-pulling past — where Republican candidates in battleground races are constantly challenged to answer for his more erratic statements.

Trump is unlikely to heed such warnings to pivot to a more consistent general election message. So far this month, he has said that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats “hate” their religion and described some migrants as “not people.”

But the fact that Hill Republicans are even attempting to refocus him, underscored by nearly 20 interviews with lawmakers and aides, illustrates their real worries about a 2024 cycle where their electoral fates are inescapably tied to the man at the top of the ticket.

POLITICO:

Republicans are rushing to defend IVF. The anti-abortion movement hopes to change their minds.

The groups are not advocating banning IVF but want new restrictions that would significantly curtail access to the procedure.

Anti-abortion advocates worked for five decades to topple Roe v. Wade. They’re now laying the groundwork for a yearslong fight to curb in vitro fertilization.

Since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled last month that frozen embryos are children, the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups have been strategizing how to convince not just GOP officials but evangelicals broadly that they should have serious moral concerns about fertility treatments like IVF and that access to them should be curtailed.

In short, they want to re-run the Roe playbook.

Today, Trump said he'd spoken with the family of Ruby Garcia, who was recently murdered by an undocumented immigrant in Michigan. Ruby Garcia's family says that isn't true. https://t.co/ikiNcd8kr5

— Zack Stanton (@zackstanton) April 2, 2024

Craig Gilbert/Milwaukee Journal sentinel:

For Donald Trump, Wisconsin in 2024 looks a lot like Wisconsin in 2016

Eight years ago in Wisconsin’s GOP primary, Donald Trump suffered his last big defeat on his way to the nomination, undone by a huge geographic divide over his candidacy.

Trump won the Republican vote in the rural north and west but was thrashed in metropolitan Milwaukee and Madison.

This year, Trump wrapped up his party’s nomination long before Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary (and will campaign today in Green Bay).

But the regional schisms in the GOP over the former president have re-emerged, a polling analysis shows.

Gregg T Nunziata/The Dispatch with a conservative opinion about what went wrong:

The Conservative Legal Movement Got Everything It Wanted. It Could Lose It All.

Trump-era advances in jurisprudence came at a deep civic cost.

Contrary to the fears of liberals and the misplaced hopes of Trump, conservative judicial appointees upheld the principle of judicial independence. They refused to serve as reliable partisans and handed Trump and his administration important legal defeats. Crucially, Trump’s nominees rejected his baseless claims of a stolen election.

But these advances in jurisprudence came at a deep civic cost. The president with whom legal conservatives allied themselves used his office to denigrate the rule of law, mock the integrity of the justice system, attack American institutions, and undermine public faith in democracy. Beyond the rhetoric, he abused emergency powers, manipulated appropriated funds for personal political ends, and played fast and loose with the appointments clause, all at the cost of core congressional powers.

Republicans in Congress barely resisted these actions and increasingly behaved more like courtiers than members of a co-equal branch of government. They failed to treat either of his impeachments with appropriate constitutional gravity. House Republicans dismissed his first impeachment process. Leading senators not only ignored centuries of precedent by refusing to conduct a meaningful trial, but they debased themselves by traipsing to the White House to guffaw and applaud while the president celebrated his acquittal.

News: Alaska Rep. Mary Peltola brought in an eye-popping $1.7 million in the first three months of the year, bringing her war chest to $2.5 million as she prepares to defend the Trumpiest seat held by a Democrat. https://t.co/AT2TR4lpxz

— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) April 2, 2024

That’s what happens when you’re pro fish.

Cliff Schecter covers Stacey Plaskett taking down Jim Jordan:

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Being in Congress is about more than just getting elected

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup is a long-running series published every morning that collects essential political discussion and analysis around the internet.

Bess Levin/Vanity Fair:

Over 100 House Republicans Will Skip GOP Retreat Because They Hate Each Other So Much: Report

They apparently don’t want to spend any more time together than they’re contractually obligated to.
When he abruptly announced his decision yesterday to quit Congress early, [Rep. Ken] Buck said, of the dysfunction on Capitol Hill: “It is the worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress and having talked to former members, it’s the worst year in 40, 50 years to be in Congress.… This place has just devolved into this bickering and nonsense and not really doing the job for the American people.” Specifically calling out his fellow Republicans, he said: “We’ve taken impeachment, and we’ve made it a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept—this place keeps going downhill, and I don’t need to spend more time here.”

16. Just as Clinton’s economic policies finally ended the presidencies of Roosevelt and Johnson, Biden’s economic policies are finally ending the presidencies of Reagan and Clinton.

— The Editorial Board (@johnastoehr) March 14, 2024

Jeff Tiedrich/”everyone is entitled to my own opinion” on Substack:

Handy Oakley’s days in Congress are numbered as the House GOP freaks the fuck out boo fucking hoo

the House GOP is in total disarray and it’s super fucking hilarious.

right now, House Republicans are running around the halls of Congress with their pants around their ankles and soup pots on their heads and banging the fuck into the walls and each other — it’s twenty-megaton clownshoes bedlam.

they’re resigning left and right. their majority is shrinking. half the them hate the guts of the other half — every single one of them is an incompetent imbecile who couldn’t govern their way out of a paper bag.

the collective IQ of the whole worthless lot of them couldn’t generate enough wattage to warm a leftover slice of pizza, which makes it all the more amusing to watch them freak the fuck out and melt down into a rancid puddle of stupid.

Yeah, but what do you really think, Jeff?

Want to hear me give my case for the importance of NATO? Over at @UnPopulistMag, I debate this very issue with my discourse partner @shikhadalmia https://t.co/AUuYDC6Yj6

— Berny Belvedere (@bernybelvedere) March 14, 2024

Will Bunch/The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Voters don’t have a clue about how much worse Trump’s second term would be Many voters seem fooled that Trump 47 would be a bland replay of Trump 45, not the authoritarian nightmare he actually plans.

Gameli Fenuku, a 22-year-old Black college student in Richmond, Va., is exactly the demographic you’d think would never vote for Donald Trump in November — and indeed, he may not. But Fenuku told the New York Times he hasn’t ruled out supporting the presumptive GOP nominee, either. That’s because he remembers his teen years under Trump as a time when a lot of things were a lot better than he sees them now — especially the economy.

[...]

The Virginia college student is the face of a phenomenon that is shaping the 2024 rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden with less than eight months to go. The polls and interviews suggest a lot of voters are responding no to the ex-president’s borrowing of Ronald Reagan’s famous question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” This despite Trump’s army of detractors calling this “collective amnesia” about a twice-impeached president who nearly four years ago was wondering if Americans should be drinking bleach to tackle COVID-19.

Less than three-and-a-half years after the U.S. electorate made Trump the first 21st-century president to lose reelection — and by a solid, seven million vote margin — a poll taken by a liberal climate group found 52% of today’s voters now approve of Trump’s former presidency.

Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

Biden doesn't need guilty verdicts to win

Any strategy to defeat Trump should not be premised on help from the judiciary.

Most national polls show Donald Trump leading Joe Biden. But when pollsters ask whom would voters prefer if Trump was convicted of a felony, Biden always comes out on top.

This understandably makes Democrats eager for Trump's many trials to get underway, and deeply anxious when Trump's delay tactics succeed.

But the delays are an implicit reminder that nothing is certain about the outcome of the Trump trials, and any strategy to defeat Trump should not be premised on help from the judiciary.

Delay is the name of the game, and judges and Justices seem all too eager to play along.

New: Trump flip-flopped on a possible TikTok ban because he wants to try to drive a wedge between Biden and young voters. Here's how he plans to do it with some thoughts on how to fight back https://t.co/9wF4idNJfA

— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) March 14, 2024

Philip Bump/The Washington Post:

Polling won’t tell you who will win in November, but it’s not meant to

So let’s use the occasion of Biden’s comments to do three things. First, let’s establish that polling is an effective way to measure public opinion. Second, let’s clarify that does not mean that a poll conducted today will accurately capture who will win the presidential election. And third, let’s further clarify that even the last polls conducted before this year’s election will almost certainly show no more than who is more likely to win.

Those three things might seem contradictory, but they are not. If you use a paper map to plan your route to your destination, you’ll have a good sense of how long it will take. You should not, however, assume that it will provide you with a Google Maps-like estimate of your arrival time to the minute. It’s not real-time, for one thing, and it’s simply not designed to be as precise.

An anti-fascist consensus, reimagined?   Biden’s State of the Union offered a vision of what it means to “defend democracy” that should, if taken seriously, transform America – and help re-think liberalism – rather than just restore pre-Trump “normalcy” (link in bio):   🧵1/ pic.twitter.com/bpUtyF75Ke

— Thomas Zimmer (@tzimmer_history) March 13, 2024

Greg Sargent/The New Republic:

Trump Is the Big Loser as the GOP’s Impeachment Farce Implodes

The case against Trump is based on things that actually happened, while the case against Biden is based largely on inventions.

That might seem counterintuitive. What does Trump’s culpability have to do with the case against Biden? Yet step back a bit and the dynamic becomes clear: The GOP arguments for impeaching Biden are revealed at their most absurd when the two cases are laid side by side.

What’s more, when the GOP’s game is fully exposed—that it’s not just about hatching fake evidence of crimes by Biden but also about muddying the waters around evidence of crimes by Trump that is very real—that’s when the GOP posture becomes most indefensible.

Signs of this dynamic are everywhere. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing that purported to grill Robert Hur, the special counsel who recently released a report exonerating Biden that also contained damning but gratuitous claims about his age and memory...

But the hearing was largely a bust for Republicans. The savvy observers at Politico’s Playbook called it a “dud” and reported that it has prompted Republicans to look for an “off ramp” from their impeachment push, which turns on a separate set of claims about the Biden family’s business dealings that have also largely collapsed.

POLITICO:

As Biden impeachment stalls, House GOP turns to backup plans

While Republicans have considered other paths to antagonize the White House for months, those plans have taken on fresh importance as a vote to impeach seems doomed.

But Republicans are determined not to give up on a push that’s still a high priority for the GOP base — especially since abandoning it altogether could alienate conservatives they need to turn out in November. So they’re exploring backup options to keep the spotlight on so-far-unproven allegations that Biden misused the public offices he’s held to benefit his family’s businesses.

Those Plan Bs include legislative reforms like tighter financial disclosure and foreign lobbying guardrails; criminal referrals for Hunter Biden and others to the Justice Department; a potential lawsuit for DOJ officials’ testimony and calls from some within their conference to just keep investigating, pushing the probe closer to Election Day.

Any of those off-ramps come with risks of their own — namely that they require cooperation from the Senate or the Justice Department — but, the current GOP thinking goes, Republicans would at least have something to show to their anti-Biden voters with their thin majority on the line.

In other words, having made stuff up from the beginning, they continue to make stuff up. I can’t imagine that’s going to satisfy the base, but it’s all they’ve got.

Between his unpopularity and the structural forces against third parties, Menendez would be lucky to get 5% of the vote. #NJsen https://t.co/iRTJLzWrfP

— Nathaniel Rakich (@baseballot) March 14, 2024

Cliff Schecter and Tony Michaels on Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina: