The Republicans 2020

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The Republicans 2020
The Lincoln Project
What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory
The 45th President of the U.S.

23-24 November
John Cassidy: If the polls are to be believed—and one of the lessons of the election is that they should never be entirely believed—a majority of Republicans support Trump’s claim that the 2020 vote was crooked. And why wouldn’t they? “Republican senators and representatives, in their silence, are allowing the idea to take hold that the whole system is rigged,” Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, noted last Thursday, in the Wall Street Journal. The fact that, this week, some elected Republicans at the national level belatedly came forward and called on Trump to allow the transition to begin doesn’t negate the abject servility that they have displayed since the election—and, indeed, since the 2016 election.
Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein lists 21 GOP senators who have ‘privately’ expressed their ‘extreme contempt’ for Donald Trump
(Daily Mail UK) ‘I’m not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially in reporting this: 21 Republican Sens–in convos w/ colleagues, staff members, lobbyists, W. House aides–have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump and his fitness to be POTUS.” He continued: ‘The 21 GOP Senators who have privately expressed their disdain for Trump are: Portman, Alexander, Sasse, Blunt, Collins, Murkowski, Cornyn, Thune, Romney, Braun, Young, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Rubio, Grassley, Burr, Toomey, McSally, Moran, Roberts, Shelby.
‘With few exceptions, their craven public silence has helped enable Trump’s most grievous conduct—including undermining and discrediting the US the electoral system.’

21 November
State and Local Republicans Standing Up to Trump Are Putting National G.O.P. Leaders to Shame
(The New Yorker) Republicans’ complicity with Trump goes beyond their silence, disturbing as that is. The demented press conference that Rudy Giuliani and other Trump lawyers held on Thursday, at which they alleged a grand voter-fraud conspiracy orchestrated by the Biden campaign, took place at the Republican National Committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters. After the event, the R.N.C. posted a video clip from it on its Twitter account. Later that day, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the R.N.C., appeared on Sean Hannity’s show, on Fox News, where she defended Trump’s unprecedented refusal to accept the result of the election, claiming that it was based on “real things that we are seeing on the ground across the country.”

19 November
The Future of the GOP
Madison Cawthorn is 25, far-right, and already faces accusations of racism and sexual misconduct. And he’s headed to Congress.
(New York) Despite his youth, inexperience, and a campaign plagued by scandal after scandal, Cawthorn trounced his Democratic opponent by 12 points. He’s part of a young, insurgent generation of GOP politicos forged in the heat of MAGA and the slimy crucible of its culture wars. Like any number of college Young Republicans roiling their campuses nationwide with increasingly radicalized rhetoric, Cawthorn is a young man who’s demonstrated racist views and been accused of misogynist behavior — and hasn’t let either stop him in his quest for power. Add in a photogenic set of cheekbones and a marked tendency to pose with girth-y rifles, and you arrive at the message the GOP has imprinted on its rising stars: one of instinctual cruelty and little else. It’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that this is the future of the Republican Party, and the main of what it has to offer.

17 November
A Disturbing Number of Republicans Support Trump’s Coup Attempt
(New York) Influential Republican activists like Tom Fitton, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Ken Starr have all demanded state legislators override the election result. Politicians like Florida governor Ron DeSantis and South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham have also signed on.

16 November
Lindsey Graham Pressured Georgia Secretary of State to Toss Legal Ballots
(New York) Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham and other Republicans have reportedly pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to toss out legal ballots as part of their increasingly desperate efforts to contest Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the presidential election.
The Trump Era Is Just Getting Started
By Zak Cheney-Rice
Ridding the White House of Trump, if the American people are successful in doing so, is unlikely to mean ridding our national politics of his influence, let alone the man himself.
(New York Magazine) Trump has an enormous following whose fealty to him seems at most times incidental to the fact of his presidency, indeed who worshipped him as much when he was an aggrieved contender as when he was playing the triumphant commander-in chief, and again now that he’s an aggrieved loser who won’t admit he lost. His approval ratings as president were impervious to nearly every disaster he unleashed on the American people — including his feckless and callous handling of a deadly pandemic — for anywhere between 35 to 40 percent of the public. Now he has proposed two future plans: he reportedly says he’s considering running for president again in 2024, and has often said that he might launch a media venture to compete with Fox News. The full implications aren’t yet clear. But when a scorned ex-president with a massive and devoted following whose most notable skills are nursing grievances and attracting attention broadcasts a plan to dedicate the next several years to resolving a grievance and getting more attention, it’s probably time for both parties to start considering how their political futures might be shaped by his continued grip on Republican voters especially, even once he’s out of office.
… Americans rejoicing in his defeat should prepare accordingly.

Heather Cox Richardson November 14:
Today’s Republican Party has traveled a long way from the party of Abraham Lincoln.

In the 1850s, the Republican Party rose to stand against a small group of wealthy southern white slaveholders who had taken over the government. Those slaveholders made up only about 1% of the American South. They ran the Democratic Party, but they knew their system of human enslavement was unpopular and that they were in a political minority even in the Democratic Party. It was only a question of time until the majority began to hem in their ownership of other human beings.
So when folks started to urge the government to promote infrastructure in the growing nation, building roads or dredging harbors, for example, these southern leaders worried that if the government began to intervene in the economy, the regulation of slavery would be just around the corner. They pushed back by insisting that the government could do nothing that was not expressly written in the Constitution. Even if the vast majority of the people in the country wanted the government to do something, it could not.

12-13 November
Ezra Klein: The crisis isn’t Trump. It’s the Republican Party.
Anne Applebaum wrote the book on why people choose to collaborate with authoritarian regimes. So what does she think of the GOP?
The most alarming aspect of the past week is not Donald Trump’s anti-democratic efforts. He is doing exactly what he has always done, exactly what he said he would do. It’s the speed at which Republican elites have consolidated support around him. Without the Republican Party’s support, Trump is just the loser of an election, ranting ineffectually about theft as a way to rationalize defeat. With the Republican Party’s support, he’s a danger to the country.
GOP leaders’ embrace of Trump’s refusal to concede fits pattern of rising authoritarianism, data shows
Research by a team of international scholars shows the Republican Party’s shift away from democratic norms predates Donald Trump but has accelerated since
(WaPo) Now, according to data released by an international team of political scientists just before the Nov. 3 election, it’s possible to quantify the extent to which the Republican Party no longer adheres to such principles as the commitment to free and fair elections with multiple parties, the respectful treatment of political opponents and the avoidance of violent rhetoric.
‘What a Mess!’: Billionaire Charles Koch Regrets His Partisanship
(Daily Beast) Kansas billionaire Charles Koch now says that he regrets his partisan spending—admitting in his new book that it only made things worse, according to The Wall Street Journal. The 85-year-old tycoon’s book, Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, says that he is shifting his focus from intense Republican partisanship to finding unifying answers to social issues instead. “Boy, did we screw up!” Koch writes. “What a mess!” He now wants to work together with Democrats and liberals like the American Civil Liberties Union, the LeBron James Family Foundation, and Democratic state legislative campaigns.
Small Cracks Emerge in G.O.P. Support for Trump’s Baseless Fraud Claims
President Trump retains a powerful hold on his party. But a growing number of Republican elected officials and party leaders have signaled they will indulge his conspiracy theories for only so long.
(NYT) …with Mr. Biden now leading in enough states to deliver him as many as 306 Electoral College votes — the same sum Mr. Trump won in 2016 and declared a “landslide” — and with no credible evidence of electoral malfeasance, Republicans are gingerly beginning to acknowledge the reality of Mr. Biden’s win. The former vice president leads by more than 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, 53,000 in Pennsylvania and 148,000 in Michigan — comparable to or larger than Mr. Trump’s winning margins in those states four years ago. And in the popular vote, Mr. Biden is now ahead by more than five million votes.

26 October
Conservative Analyst Bill Kristol: A Trump Second Term is Dangerous (video)
(Amanpour and Company) President Trump’s America has been characterized by political polarization. Also notable has been the exodus of prominent Republicans from the GOP. One high-profile example is Bill Kristol, who served in the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He now leads Defending Democracy Together, a coalition of anti-Trump Republicans. He speaks with Walter Isaacson about the possible cost to his former party, should its members continue to back this administration unconditionally.

20 October
Republicans, it’s time to choose between autocracy and a republic
By Republicans Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt and Rick Wilson, co-founders of the Lincoln Project, and Stuart Stevens, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project.
Never before in U.S. history has an incumbent president refused in advance to accept the outcome of an election. In the days ahead, your party may call upon you to support efforts by a White House that refuses to transfer power after a loss at the polls. The weapons won’t be tanks but thousands of lawyers backed by an attorney general who works for the president, not the people.

Has Trump Drawn the Water for a ‘Republican Blood Bath’?
And if he has, what should Biden do with his first term?
By Gail Collins and Bret Stephens

9 October
Republicans are finally ready to diss Don
The president’s grip on the party is loosening amid a coronavirus backlash and fears of an electoral bloodbath.
(Politico) A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.

5 October
Inside the Lincoln Project’s War Room
Progressives are wary of the conservative group hammering the President, but its founders say they’re fighting for all Americans.
(The New Yorker) The Project’s founders are a murderers’ row of conservative operatives. Wilson, who has worked for Rudolph Giuliani and Dick Cheney, counts hundreds of elections, from “dogcatcher to U.S. Senate,” that he and the other founders have helped Republicans win. Schmidt served in the George W. Bush White House, where he was instrumental in seating the Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. He is widely known for having suggested Sarah Palin as a running mate for McCain, in 2008. Schmidt clearly regrets choosing someone whose crude populism presaged Trump.
Most of the Project’s core founders are in their fifties and came of age under Ronald Reagan. They were drawn to Reagan’s optimism and to his belief in fiscally responsible government, which, as Galen points out, “doesn’t necessarily mean lower taxes—it means being smart with taxpayers’ money.” Socially, they favor individual liberty: worship however you want, marry whomever you want. They support responsible gun ownership and a judiciously interventionist foreign policy. Weaver served in the Air Force, and Wilson worked in the Defense Department, but all the founders revere military service.

2 October
How Trump and Barr are Benefitting from the Catholic Right’s Consolidation of Power
(The New Yorker) Midway through this year’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which was live-streamed last Wednesday morning, the screen shifted from an image of the event’s president, Leonard Leo, to the recipient of this year’s lifetime-achievement award, William Barr. Barr, of course, is the U.S. Attorney General. Leo is the co-chair of the Federalist Society, an organization of attorneys and legal educators that promotes the careers of judges who subscribe to principles of political conservatism and “textual originalism.” Both men are lifelong Roman Catholics. In this moment, they are the two of the most influential Catholic conservatives in the United States.
John Carr, my colleague at Georgetown University, who was formerly a key figure in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the N.C.P.B. this way: “It’s not particularly national, not fully Catholic, not primarily prayer, and this year not even breakfast. It’s a partisan exercise where supporters of Donald Trump are more at home than defenders of Pope Francis.”
…Amy Coney Barrett, of the Seventh Circuit, who on Saturday became Trump’s official nominee— [is a] Catholic conservative whose views reflect those of the Federalist Society. (If Barrett is confirmed, the Court will have five conservative Catholic Justices, the culmination of the Federalist Society’s forty-year effort to tilt the courts to the right.)
… [Trump] has courted conservative Catholics in 2020 as avidly as he courted evangelical Christians in 2016. This Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, went to Rome hoping to gain an audience with Pope Francis in order to discuss the Pope’s engagement with China, which has angered Catholic conservatives. No audience was granted, though. Pompeo took part in a symposium that night hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, and her husband, Newt, who is a co-chair of the advocacy group Catholics for Trump.

1 October
How Cindy McCain could help Biden clinch Arizona
“The Cindy McCain endorsement can have real impact,” said one prominent Republican in the state.
(Politico) The Biden campaign was already feeling good about flipping Arizona, where polling averages show him with a lead of over 3 points. Cindy McCain’s backing could be particularly valuable in massive Maricopa County surrounding Phoenix, and especially its enormous swath of independents and moderate Republicans.
In other words, among McCain Republicans. The Republican Party of Arizona is no longer the one John McCain presided over. Its apparatus is solidly behind Trump, as evidenced by the rise of far-right Republican Kelli Ward from a fringe member of the party to head of the state GOP. But no one’s arguing Cindy McCain could sway Trump diehards — it’s all about independents, of which there are many.

30 September
G.O.P. Alarmed by Trump’s Comments on Extremist Group, Fearing a Drag on the Party
For the second time in two weeks, Republicans distanced themselves from the president, expressing unease about his failure to disavow a right-wing organization linked with white supremacy and acts of violence.

10 September
Republican worries rise as Trump campaign pulls back from television advertising
Republican officials have been inundated with calls from worried activists and donors who complain about constant Biden ads in their local media markets, with very few paid Trump responses, according to people familiar with the conversations. Some Republicans close to Trump have been baffled at the decision to sharply curb advertising and have told the president he should change course.

7 September
The 2020 Trump Campaign Is Reportedly a Financial Mess
By Matt Stieb
It comes as no surprise that a campaign which held a rally that was most likely the source of a large uptick of COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma and lost millions due to a failed Republican National Convention venue change would be tumultuous behind the scenes. But a report from the New York Times details just how chaotic the Trump campaign’s finances have been, particularly for a reelection effort which began the day after the inauguration.
Though the campaign raised a total of $1.1 billion since the beginning of 2019 and did not have to spend money in a primary, over $800 million, or close to 73 percent, of their funds have been exhausted. Similar to the trajectory of the president’s business career, an early excess of cash appears to have been wasted due to questionable spending.

30 August
The Republicans’ Conspiratorial Convention
Trump and his supporters claimed that his opponents are seeking to deceive and subdue Americans. It’s a dangerous path.
By Amy Davidson Sorkin
(The New Yorker) Tiffany Trump is not the most prominent or politically adept of the President’s children, but her speech at the Republican National Convention last week served as a succinct summation of the event’s key messages. Donald Trump is a giant among Presidents, protecting the country and keeping his promises. His reëlection is a contest between freedom and oppression. Yet he’s subject to hatred, Tiffany said, because so many people have been “manipulated and visibly coerced” by the media and tech companies that present a “biased and fabricated” version of reality. “Ask yourselves, why are we prevented from seeing certain information?” she urged viewers. The answer is “control.”

23-27 August
Fact-Checking Night 3 of the Republican National Convention
(NYT) Republicans used the third night of their national convention to craft a portrait of President Trump as a fierce supporter of social conservatives, the military and women, often using exaggeration and hype that papered over Mr. Trump’s personal history and policy record during the last four years.
John Cassidy: Mike Pence’s Big Lie About Trump and the Coronavirus at the Republican National Convention
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Mike Pence’s bowing and scraping to Donald Trump is that he seems to revel in it.
The great irony, and outrage, of Pence’s speech is that, as the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force since February, he’s had a unique and closeup view of Trump’s actual response to the pandemic: the constant belittling of the virus’s threat; the claims that it would go away of its own accord; the quack remedies, including injecting disinfectant into stricken patients; the squabbling with governors, even Republican ones, who called out the inadequacy of his actions; the urging of states to reopen their economies even as they failed to meet the guidelines that Pence’s task force had laid down; the months of defiant refusal to wear a mask; and, in the end, the decision to effectively give up on the whole thing and move on. … throughout his speech, Pence presented Trump as everything he isn’t: engaged, diligent, and dedicated solely to acting in the interests of the American people.
At R.N.C., Trump Uses Tools of Presidency in Aim to Broaden Appeal
(NYT) The convention swerved from the first night’s dire tone with a grab-bag of events and personal testimonials targeted especially at female and minority voters.
By appropriating the resources of his office, President Trump breached the traditional boundaries between campaigning and governing.
Melania Trump steps into the spotlight, White House doubles as convention stage on RNC Night 2
(PBS) The theme of the night was “American Opportunity.” Speakers praised Trump’s record on criminal justice reform, foreign policy, government deregulation and the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the most consequential moments came from Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo using their positions as public servants to promote the campaign’s interests.
Trump frequently blurs the line between his role as president and role as candidate. That trend continued into Tuesday as Trump showcased himself performing presidential duties in the White House clearly executed for the convention broadcast to promote his candidacy.
… One of the most controversial appearances Tuesday was Mike Pompeo, whose participation in the convention bucks a long-running expectation that U.S. diplomats avoid political activity.
Last year, his department issued a directive barring presidential appointees from engaging in “political activity in concert with a partisan candidate, political party, or partisan political group,” citing the Hatch Act.
“Senate confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event,” the memo stated in bold.
Adding more fuel to the criticism, Pompeo’s remarks Tuesday were pre-recorded while he was conducting official State Department business in Israel.
Heather Cox Richardson:
The Republican National Convention is designed to fire up the base to make sure its members vote, and to reassure wavering Republicans that they can vote for Trump without being racists but rather staunch Americans. And on both fronts, the first two days of this convention have delivered.
The Trump team is not using half-measures; they are meeting head-on the criticisms of Trump and exacerbating them. They are campaigning by audacity. That is, after all, one of the characteristics Trump’s base likes most about him.
Tonight that audacity dovetailed with what appears to be the Trump family’s growing authoritarianism to make them broadcast that they are above the law. Tonight’s proceedings smashed all U.S. laws and traditions against using public property for partisan purposes. The power of the presidency, the physical space of the White House—the people’s house– and the nation’s international standing are all enlisted to get this president, this one man, reelected.
The Special Hypocrisy of Melania Trump’s Speech at the Republican National Convention
In the Rose Garden, what looked like dozens of audience members, including Melania’s husband, as she would refer to the President, looked on from chairs. (According to reports, only the guests who sat near the President and Vice-President were tested for COVID-19.) Her olive-green skirt suit, by Alexander McQueen, looked rather like fatigues, and recalled the palette of her other famous jacket, with its quick message of fast-fashion fascism: “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?”

Best and Worst Moments From Night 1
NYT columnists and contributors give their rankings.
Peter Wehner: There are three notable themes that emerged. One is that on the first day of the R.N.C. we witnessed a cult of personality that at times rivaled Jonestown, minus (thankfully) the mass suicide. The second was how fully the R.N.C. has embraced Trump’s inversion of reality. The bolder the deception, the better. Third, a relentless effort to portray Democrats not just as radical but malevolent, committed to destroying America and to relish doing so.
Bret Stephens: Like it or not, the first night of the Republican convention made an effective case that Donald Trump was an energetic and surprisingly empathetic president; that Joe Biden was a career politician who accomplished nothing over 47 years; and that Democrats have more sympathy for rioters and cancel-culture warriors than they do for law-abiding citizens and freethinkers. Liberals may think this is all lies and slander, but they dismiss it at their political peril.

The Republicans who won’t be speaking at the convention, and what that says about the GOP
(WaPo) Not speaking for the second time at a convention nominating Trump is the only living past Republican president, George W. Bush — a break from tradition. (All three past Democratic presidents offered remarks at that party’s convention last week.)
We also won’t see a ton of Republican senators and House lawmakers who are running for reelection in potentially competitive races. Republican senators running for reelection from swing states for both the White House and the Senate — such as Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine — won’t be making an appearance to speak on behalf of Trump. A number of them have started running ads that don’t mention Trump.
… Republicans are now seriously contemplating a future without Trump, so it’s also instructive to see how many might be thinking about a 2024 run and decided to appear at the convention.
Potential future presidential candidates speaking this week for Trump include Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s sons, and, of course, Vice President Pence.
… There is a real rift in the party about whether and how much to support the president, especially as polls show he could lose in November.
Oh, and on the first day of the Republicans’ convention, Fox News reported that Flake and more than two dozen former Republican members of Congress will be part of a “Republicans for Biden” campaign.
Former RNC chairman Michael Steele joins The Lincoln Project

Kellyanne Conway to leave Trump White House at end of month
President’s adviser cites the need to focus on her family as her husband George also steps back from his role at the Lincoln Project

The Grand Old Meltdown
What happens when a party gives up on ideas?
By Tim Alberta
(Politico Magazine) It can now safely be said, as his first term in the White House draws toward closure, that Donald Trump’s party is the very definition of a cult of personality. It stands for no special ideal. It possesses no organizing principle. It represents no detailed vision for governing. Filling the vacuum is a lazy, identity-based populism that draws from that lowest common denominator [Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman] alluded to. If it agitates the base, if it lights up a Fox News chyron, if it serves to alienate sturdy real Americans from delicate coastal elites, then it’s got a place in the Grand Old Party.
GOP Will Not Write a 2020 Platform, Pledges Undying Trump Support Instead
By Jonathan Chait
In lieu of a document attempting to define the party’s beliefs and priorities, the RNC simply states that it agrees with everything Trump has done and will do:
The official excuse is that the coronavirus has made it impossible for the party to get together and write a platform: “The Republican National Committee (RNC) has significantly scaled back the size and scope of the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte due to strict restrictions on gatherings and meetings, and out of concern for the safety of convention attendees and our hosts.” Yet somehow the Democrats managed to come up with a platform without killing anybody.

Trump announces emergency authorization for new COVID-19 treatment after accusing FDA of purposefully delaying research
(NBC) One day prior to the start of the Republican National Convention, Trump made the announcement in an evening news conference.

Trump, the G.O.P.’s ‘talent in chief,’ will take the spotlight every night of the convention.
(NYT) President Trump is set to speak every night of the Republican National Convention — an unusually active role for an incumbent president.
… The Republicans’ celebration is being led by longtime Trump loyalists such as the White House advisers Ms. Conway and Hope Hicks; Justin Clark, the president’s deputy campaign manager; and Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law.
Mike Pence hopes four years of subservience to Trump will lift his political future
On Wednesday night, Pence will formally accept his party’s nomination for a second term as vice president in an address to the Republican National Convention from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where he will praise Trump’s leadership. The keynote serves as a bookend of sorts for one of the few high-ranking officials to survive Trump’s first term. He is being repaid for his loyalty with a reward — remaining in the No. 2 slot — that in most other administrations would never have been in doubt.
What TV networks should do if lies are told at the Republican convention
(CNN Business)The Republican National Convention is kicking off Monday, and newsrooms will have a crucial decision to make: Should TV networks intervene if President Donald Trump or other speakers lie?
“All the networks need to cover this as a major medical disinformation campaign,” said Amanda Carpenter, author of “Gaslighting America,” on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show Sunday. “There’s a lot of low-information voters tuning in for the first time…. The networks have a higher responsibility to keep people safe.”
Carpenter said networks should be unafraid to “break in” and put experts on air alongside the convention to correct the record if speakers lie.

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