Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
The Republicans August 2022- June 2023
The one issue Republican presidential candidates don’t want to talk about
One year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republicans are still struggling to find a winning message on abortion.
(Politico) …for Republicans, the reaction to Dobbs continues to be all over the map. Our colleagues Sally Goldenberg, Adam Wren and Natalie Allison take a swing this morning at how abortion is playing out in the 2024 presidential primary, concluding that Republican candidates have calculated that the best way to talk about the issue is to “dodge the specifics.”
The various approaches range from MIKE PENCE’s embrace of a national abortion ban to CHRIS CHRISTIE’s leave-it-to-the states approach, with plenty of wavering and waffling and equivocating in between.
And then there’s frontrunner DONALD TRUMP, who “despite heavy lobbying from anti-abortion rights activists for a 15-week ban, has kept his answers vague,” the trio reports.
NPR: House grinds to a halt: Last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy scored a major victory by passing the deal he brokered with President Biden to lift the debt ceiling. This week, conservatives angry about that deal struck back, and brought all House activity to a stop until the GOP can regroup. If this sounds familiar, we predicted there might be trouble in last week’s newsletter. Now, it’s unclear what the conservative bloc of members wants or how long the stalemate will drag out.
In the House, a spectacular flameout
By Dana Milbank
A week ago, Speaker Kevin McCarthy was king of the world. “Tonight we all made history,” the California Republican announced after the bipartisan debt deal sailed through the House.
Just six days after his triumph, a small band of right-wing zealots who opposed the debt deal used parliamentary tactics to bring proceedings on the House floor to a halt, in the first protest of its kind in more than two decades. They shut down the House for a couple of hours, then for the entire day, then for the next day. After 6 p.m. on Wednesday, House GOP leaders surrendered to the saboteurs with a whip notice: “Members are advised that votes are no longer expected in the House this week. … Thank you all for your patience.”
Pence attacks Trump as he challenges his ex-boss in 2024 White House race
(Reuters) – Former Vice President Mike Pence, who loyally served Donald Trump for four years, on Wednesday blasted his former boss for the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol as he launched his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Pence issued his most forceful condemnation to date of Trump’s role in the attack of Jan. 6, 2021, when the then-president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Congress to try to stop lawmakers from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory.
House Is Paralyzed as Far-Right Rebels Continue Mutiny Against McCarthy
Members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus refused to surrender control of the floor, forcing G.O.P. leaders to scrap votes for the week and leaving the speaker facing what he conceded was “chaos.”
Gail Collins: The Republican Silly Season Has Begun
Back when Donald Trump announced it all seemed sorta life-as-usual, but now the race is definitely on. There are currently somewhere between 12 and 400 Republicans eyeing the White House.
All the major names are men except Nikki Haley, who’s arguing that “it’s time to put a badass woman in the White House.” Well, yeah. There’s very little chance Haley’s campaign is going anywhere, but I think we can all agree she could really perk things up. We’re also expecting some energy from the newly announced candidate Chris Christie.
On Wednesday we acquired Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota. His great claim to fame is having built a software company that he sold for over $1 billion. …
OK, and let’s see … there’s Perry Johnson. Ever heard of Perry Johnson? He did run for governor of Michigan last year but got thrown off the Republican primary ballot for invalid petition signatures.
Nobody wants to return to the days when power brokers picked presidential candidates in a smoke-filled room. There was nothing very democratic about that. But neither is our current arrangement, with so many look-alike candidates running at the same time. Such over-crowded fields undermine the very democratic ideal they purport to celebrate. It may be impossible to deter massive numbers of candidates from rampaging on the hustings like army ants, but it’s worth considering. Anything that will spare us a second Ted Cruz candidacy would be a plus.
Return of the Republican Clown Car
The presidential race is getting crowded, and Trump is the beneficiary once again.
(Politico) Who asked Nikki Haley to run for president? Can somebody introduce us to the gentlepersons who convinced Tim Scott to enter the contest? Is anybody outside of his family and his congregation urging Mike Pence to join the Republican field? The same applies to the other long shots — Vivek Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum, Chris Sununu and Chris Christie — who have been flashing their presidential dance cards at voters. Have any of them stopped to consider the deleterious effect that having a swarm of candidates in the race might have on the outcome?
The classic example of too many candidates selling the same or similar platform came in 2016, when presidential wannabes clogged the runway like airliners during an O’Hare International Airport white-out blizzard. Such was the surplus of Republican candidates in the early going that organizers had to stage double-cards of debates on seven occasions, with an early panel for the also-rans followed by the main event for the “real” candidates. Let us speak their names: Donald Trump, of course, but also Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker (only poor former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson was excluded from the debates).
Texas lawmakers issue 20 articles of impeachment against state Attorney General Ken Paxton
(AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton teetered on the brink of impeachment Thursday after years of scandal, criminal charges and corruption accusations that the state’s Republican majority had largely met with silence until now.
In an unanimous decision, a Republican-led House investigative committee that spent months quietly looking into Paxton recommended impeaching the state’s top lawyer on 20 articles, including bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust. The House could vote on the recommendation as soon as Friday. If it impeaches Paxton, he would be forced to leave office immediately.
‘It turned out to be a mistake’: Botched rollout puts DeSantis on his heels
He portrays himself as a low-drama alternative to Donald Trump. His campaign launch was the picture of disorder.
(Politico) You only get one chance to make a first impression. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ was a glitch.
The Florida governor announced his presidential campaign on Twitter Spaces, in an appearance meant to be a veritable launch hosted by an actual rocket man.
The feed broke, connections got cut off, the hosts seemed confused. It was inauspicious. It also was a black mark on the candidate’s supposed trademarks — expert organization and a comfort with the vanguard of modern media.
The Media Has Got Ron DeSantis Nailed
The press has him in an unflattering straitjacket that will be nearly impossible to escape.
(Politico) He gives every appearance of not particularly liking people, and that feeling has been reciprocated in the recent national polls as his numbers have peaked and tumbled down.
DeSantis’s Campaign of Trolling
The Florida governor seems to understand that in today’s GOP primary, serious people need not apply.
By Tom Nichols
(The Atlantic) This evening, Ron DeSantis is announcing his presidential campaign by talking to Elon Musk on Twitter. The Florida governor’s attempt to fit into Donald Trump’s shoes is only going to get worse from here.
‘Blood in the water for DeSantis’: Trump world embraces Tim Scott’s candidacy
The former president’s team views virtually every ‘24 development through the prism of whether it helps or hurts Ron DeSantis.
(Politico) The former president and his aides have long viewed a crowded GOP primary as advantageous to the ex-president’s chances of winning the 2024 presidential primary race, believing a splintered field only hurts his main competitors. Scott’s entrance was judged, in part, by the question: was it good or bad for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ chances of winning? Among the Trump faithful, the answer was, it certainly doesn’t help.
While Tim Scott is polling in single digits, he has already proven to be a formidable fundraiser with over $22 million in the bank.
‘A Tim Scott Nomination Would Be a Nightmare for Joe Biden’: Our Columnists Weigh In on the G.O.P. Candidate
Michelle Cottle As the lone Black Republican in the Senate, he is an experienced elected leader who could help soften the party’s image as a bunch of angry, racist old white guys.
Ross Douthat From his perspective, what matters most is whether DeSantis collapses and there’s a scramble to find a different anti-Trump candidate or, somewhat more plausibly, whether he can sell himself as a compelling vice-presidential candidate for the eventual nominee. From the country’s perspective, he and Haley and Ramaswamy are all reminders that the G.O.P. is, in its own way, a multiethnic big tent — but not in the kind of way that’s likely to make Scott its nominee.
Rosie Gray For one thing, Scott’s run is historic in that he is the first Black officeholder to seek the Republican presidential nomination, as Jamelle Bouie recently pointed out. And his candidacy, like that of Haley, will be a test of how much support truly exists for the favorites of the old G.O.P. establishment.
Heather Cox Richardson: May 19, 2023
Yesterday the far-right House Freedom Caucus called for an end to any discussions of raising the debt ceiling until the Senate passes its bill calling for extreme budget cuts. Today, former president Trump announced on his social media channel that “REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the ‘kitchen sink’).” THAT’S THE WAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS DEALT WITH US. DO NOT FOLD!!!”
(In reality, Congress raised the debt ceiling without conditions three times when Trump was president as Trump added an astonishing almost $7.8 trillion to the national debt, much of it thanks to his tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations before the coronavirus pandemic hit.)
Immediately after Trump’s demand, the Republicans walked away from negotiations over the budget that they are demanding before they will vote to raise the debt ceiling.
Then, hours later, they came back to the table.
Meanwhile, the headline in the Washington Post read: “World watches in disbelief and horror as U.S. nears possible default.” The story by Rachel Siegel and Jeff Stein revealed that at the meeting of the G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, this week, the finance ministers for the G7—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union—have been pulling U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen aside to ask her what is going to happen.
DeSantis’ weakness as Trump slayer has GOP rivals smelling blood
(Politico nightly) Next week is poised to be one of the most eventful of the 2024 presidential campaign. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) today filed his official paperwork to run, in advance of his home state launch event Monday. Ron DeSantis is expected to officially kick off his bid later in the week, when he hopes to be the latest Florida governor to declare his candidacy with a shock-and-awe rollout.
And that might not be the end of it. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu told Puck this week there’s a “61 percent chance” he runs for president. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is nearing a decision to launch in the next few weeks. Chatter about a possible Chris Christie bid is rising; the former New Jersey governor said in late April he’d make a decision in a few weeks.
There’s also Hamlet-on-the-James-River, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, another political heavyweight who can’t seem to avert his eye from the race.
No seasoned, successful politician runs for president without a theory of the case — a detailed and plausible path to victory. And as more prospective candidates surface, it’s becoming clearer what’s at the heart of those plans: a growing belief within the party that DeSantis is a paper tiger.
Heather Cox Richardson: May 18, 2023
Disney is locked in a battle with Florida governor Ron DeSantis
The fight between DeSantis and Disney illustrates the dramatic ideological change in the Republican Party in the last two years. No longer committed to keeping the government weak to stay out of the way of business development, the party is now committed to creating a strong government that enforces Christian nationalism.
DeSantis’s attack on Disney is yet another attack on the tenets of liberal democracy. He is challenging the idea that Disney leaders can base business decisions on markets rather than religion and exercise free speech.
There is another aspect of the Republicans’ turn against democracy in the news today. If democracy is a threat to their version of the nation, it follows that any institution that supports democracy should be destroyed. Today, the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, led by Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), continued its attack on the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ranking member Representative Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) pointed out that Jordan was violating committee rules by refusing to let Democrats on the committee see the transcripts he claims to have from a whistleblower. Other committee members noted that two of the witnesses have been paid by Trump loyalist Kash Patel.
Plaskett warned: “The rules don’t apply when it comes to the Republicans…. It’s all part and parcel of the Republicans’ attempt to make Americans distrust our rule of law so that when 2024 comes around and should their candidate not win, more and more people will not believe the truth. The truth matters.”
Conservatives no more? Why Chris Christie is criticizing Trump and DeSantis
The upcoming GOP presidential primary will be many things – expensive, long, chaotic – but one thing we know for sure is that it won’t be pretty. And one potential Trump rival, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is ready to embrace the ugly. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast, Christie outlines the stark reality he sees as things begin to heat up on the campaign trail. “I think there’s one lane for the nomination, and right now, Donald Trump’s in the front of that lane,” Christie tells Bremmer. “And if you want to get in the front of that lane, you better intervene and go right through him because otherwise, trying to go around him, I don’t think it’s a strategy.”
Chris Christie mulling 2024 White House bid
CNN — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is talking to potential donors, thought leaders, staffers, and others to discuss a possible campaign for president in 2024, sources close to Christie told CNN.
Christie is in the process of making a decision and has indicated he will make one in the coming weeks.
The New Jersey Republican sees himself as the only serious GOP candidate willing to take on former President Donald. He also sees himself as a candidate who could appeal to enough independents to beat President Joe Biden in the general election, should Biden announce a reelection bid.
Trump vs. DeSantis: Rivals’ very different styles on display
(AP) — In his first trip to Iowa this year, Ron DeSantis did not take any questions from voters. He largely ignored the local press. He avoided the diners, pizza parlors and ice cream shops that have helped presidential contenders in the leadoff voting state showcase their personal appeal and charisma for decades.
The hard-charging Florida governor has emerged as a potent force in national politics while eschewing the personal connections, intimate moments and unscripted questions that have long fueled successful White House bids in the states that sit atop the presidential primary calendar. And as DeSantis begins to introduce himself to primary voters in the weeks leading up to his expected announcement, he is showing little interest in changing his ways.
Allies insist he doesn’t need to adjust anything, pointing to his dominant 19-point reelection victory last fall. But already, his Republican rivals — led by former President Donald Trump — are working to highlight the governor’s go-it-alone approach and impersonal style by leaning into their own personal interactions on the campaign trail.
Is Ron DeSantis Flaming Out Already?
The Florida governor has a plan to win the Fox News primary—and lose everything else.
By David Frum
DeSantis is a machine engineered to win the Republican presidential nomination. The hardware is a lightly updated version of donor-pleasing mechanics from the Paul Ryan era. The software is newer. DeSantis operates on the latest culture-war code: against vaccinations, against the diversity industry, against gay-themed books in school libraries. The packaging is even more up-to-the-minute. Older models—Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush—made some effort to appeal to moderates and independents. None of that from DeSantis. He refuses to even speak to media platforms not owned by Rupert Murdoch. His message to the rest of America is more of the finger-pointing disdain he showed last year for high-school students who wore masks when he visited a college.
Florida Republicans will soon pass—and DeSantis pledged he would sign—a law banning abortion after six weeks. That bill is opposed by 57 percent of those surveyed even inside Florida. Another poll found that 75 percent of Floridians oppose the ban. It also showed that 77 percent oppose permitless concealed carry, which DeSantis supports, and that 61 percent disapprove of his call to ban the teaching of critical race theory as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion policies on college campuses. As the political strategist Simon Rosenberg noted: “Imagine how these play outside FL.”
More dangerous than the unpopular positions DeSantis holds are the popular positions he does not hold. … DeSantis just doesn’t seem to care much about what most voters care about. And voters in turn do not care much about what DeSantis cares most about.
Inside the simmering feud between Donald Trump and Fox News
The network has dramatically reduced its coverage of Trump while often prominently featuring one of his chief potential rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
(WaPo) Trump’s advisers see in Fox News leadership a clear adversary in their march back to the White House and have sought to foster a divide between executives and “the brave and patriotic” opinion hosts with whom he continues to have relationships.
Trump attacked Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch by name this month, calling him and his executives a “group of MAGA hating Globalist RINOS” who are “aiding & abetting the destruction of America.” Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. — noting that he had not been invited on the network in six months — accused Fox News leaders last week of harboring an “America Last, war forever, garbage, fold-to-the-Democrats agenda.” Other allies, such as Stephen K. Bannon, have shredded the network in public.
Heather Cox Richardson: February 18, 2023
Republican leaders are recognizing that the sight of Republican lawmakers heckling the president of the United States didn’t do their party any favors.
It not only called attention to their behavior, it prompted many news outlets to fact-check President Biden’s claim that Republicans had called for cuts to Social Security and Medicare or even called to get rid of them. Those outlets noted that while Republicans have repeatedly said they have no intention of cutting those programs, what Biden said was true: Republican leaders have repeatedly suggested such cuts, or even the elimination of those programs, in speeches, news interviews, and written proposals.
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) told Alexander Bolton of The Hill that Republicans should stick to “reasonable and enduring policy” proposals. “I think we’re missing an opportunity to differentiate,” he said. “Focus on policy. If you get that done, it will age well.”
But therein lies the Republican Party’s problem. What ARE its reasonable and enduring policies? One of the reasons Biden keeps pressuring the party to release its budget is that it’s not at all clear what the party stands for.
If Nikki Haley is the first of many to run — Trump will win
(Brookings) Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina and former Ambassador to the United Nations announced this week that she was running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. She is the second to announce, after former President Donald Trump, but she will not be the last. She is likely to be followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by former Vice President Mike Pence, and by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Other, more obscure candidates may also follow given that in recent years, running for president has become a career move towards a gig on Fox or CNN or a way to sell books or just a mammoth ego trip.
Many things will happen between now and the Republican convention in 2024, and most of them are, at this point in time, unknowable. But there is one thing we do know—if there are many candidates running for the Republican nomination and they all stay in the race—Trump will win.
The Republican party rules governing how delegates are awarded to presidential candidates are determined state by state. Taken together, they have a bias in favor of candidates who win by a small number of votes. In 2016, Donald Trump was able to win the Republican nomination because he was the plurality winner of a crowded field (11 other candidates) in many states and congressional districts.
‘Nikki Haley Will Not Be the Next President’: Our Columnists Weigh In
With candidates entering the 2024 presidential race, Times columnists and Opinion writers are starting a scorecard assessing their strengths and weaknesses. We begin with Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and United Nations ambassador in the Trump administration, who announced her bid for the Republican nomination on Tuesday.
How seriously should we take Nikki Haley’s candidacy?
David Brooks In a normal party, she would have to be taken seriously. She’s politically skilled, has never lost an election, has domestic and foreign policy experience, has been a popular governor, is about as conservative as the median G.O.P. voter and is running on an implicit platform: Let’s end the chaos and be populist but sensible. The question is, is the G.O.P. becoming once again a normal party?
Republican State of the Union rebuttals differed in more than just language
(NPR) Republicans’ dual rebuttals to President Biden’s State of the Union differed in language and strategy ahead of the 2024 election.
While Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders went straight for criticism of the “radical left” that included “indoctrinating” children and forcing “woke” culture on Americans in her English language response, Arizona Rep. Juan Ciscomani took a more diplomatic approach — sticking to policy issues and ending on a hopeful note, in Spanish.
The Institutional Arsonist Turns on His Own Party
Donald Trump threatens to use his core skills—peddling conspiracy theories, spreading lies, sowing distrust—against the GOP.
By Peter Wehner
(The Atlantic) It’s begun to dawn on Republicans that they face a potentially catastrophic political problem: Donald Trump may lose the GOP presidential primary and, out of spite, wreck Republican prospects in 2024.
That unsettling realization broke through with the release of a Bulwark poll earlier this week. The survey found that a large majority of Republicans are ready to move on from Trump—but at the same time, more than a quarter of likely Republican voters are ready to follow Trump to a third-party bid. Two days after the poll results were released, Trump was asked in an interview whether, if he lost the nomination, he would support the GOP nominee. Trump answered, “It would have to depend on who the nominee was.” Translation: no.
… But even if Trump doesn’t run as a third-party candidate, he could ensure that Republican presidential and congressional candidates lose simply by criticizing them during the campaign, accusing the Republican Party of disloyalty, and signaling to his supporters that they should sit out the election. That course of action is more straightforward, and perhaps even likelier, than a third-party bid, but it would be just as devastating to Republican prospects.
The House GOP’s sham hearings are fizzling before they even begin
By Jennifer Rubin
First, most voters don’t want lawmakers to spend time spinning scandals. A recent CNN poll found that 67 percent of voters (including 74 percent of independents) don’t like the way Republicans are handling their job. Seventy-three percent (including 48 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of independents) say Republicans aren’t paying enough attention to the country’s real issues. Likewise, a CBS poll earlier this month found that less than one-third of Americans want Republicans to spend time investigating President Biden. Every hearing that Republicans devote to distractions highlights their failure to tackle real issues.
Santos Temporarily Steps Aside From House Committees Amid Calls to Resign
The decision was the first concession by Representative George Santos, Republican of New York, who has admitted to faking parts of his résumé and is facing multiple investigations.
Mr. Santos’s move comes as Mr. McCarthy is attempting to persuade Republicans to vote to oust Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and just a week after he unilaterally blocked Representatives Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both California Democrats, from serving on the House committee overseeing intelligence matters.
Jennifer Rubin: This governor is best positioned to fill the NeverTrump lane
It’s probably too much to hope that Republicans would pick a Trump antagonist, a throwback to New England Republicans of old (socially moderate, fiscally conservative). However, if NeverTrump Republicans are savvy, they’ll quickly decide on a single standard-bearer who might prevail in a divided field. They could do a lot worse than [New Hampshire’s GOP governor, Chris] Sununu — and probably will.
Larry Hogan won over Democrats in Maryland. Could he do it nationwide?
Over eight years, Hogan proved that Democrats will give high marks to a savvy Republican with populist instincts and a willingness to trash his party’s leaders
As he left office Wednesday, it remained an open question whether the skills that catapulted Hogan to unusual popularity as the Republican governor of a Democratic state could be sold to a fractured GOP.
Any presidential bid would be built on his tenure in Maryland, where he forged rapport with the electorate through his handling of crises and a skilled public relations operation, deploying populist policies such as cutting tolls and putting air conditioning in schools.
Mike Pence sits alone in a corner of sadness
By David Byler
(WaPo) Mike Pence wants to be president. But there’s one problem — compared to the competition, he polls terribly. According to the latest data from Civiqs, he’s the only potential GOP presidential candidate who is well-known but not well-liked. … GOP voters dislike Pence because he stood up to Trump on Jan. 6, 2021. Immediately after Pence certified Joe Biden’s (rightful) victory, Pence’s favorability rating among Republican voters dropped. He never fully recovered.
Republicans delay raising the debt ceiling
NPR’s national political correspondent Mara Liasson: this is a very different kind of Republican majority in the House. It’s more of a government shutdown party than a party that is focused on the basic functions of governance, like paying bills. And also the new MAGA majority in the House is not as beholden to the institutional forces that used to pressure Republicans to perform basic functions of governance, like big business or big donors. They’re much more attuned to social media and conservative TV. So there is this feeling in the business community and in Washington that the risks of actually defaulting on the debt, which would have terrible consequences for the United States economy, [are] actually much bigger this time.
Trump warns U.S. House Republicans not to touch Social Security, Medicare
(Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump warned his fellow Republicans on Friday not to “destroy” federal retirement and health benefits as they try to exact spending cuts from President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in the looming debate over the debt ceiling.
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in a two-minute video message posted to social media that could test his influence among Republicans who now control the U.S. House of Representatives.
… Trump urged Republicans to concentrate funding cuts on “waste, fraud and abuse” as well as programs focused on foreign aid, immigration, climate change and LGBTQ rights.
The George Santos Saga Isn’t (Just) Funny
The amusement of such a candidate reaching office should not eclipse the horror of it.
By David A. Graham
(The Atlantic) The Santos story is funny, but a real danger exists that the public might allow its amusement to eclipse the horror of such a candidate reaching office and the consequences for Congress and the American political system’s remaining shreds of repute.
… Santos ought to be investigated to see whether he broke any existing laws. He already faces complaints before the House Ethics Committee and Federal Election Commission about his campaign spending, and there’s a larger question about how Santos, who was previously strapped for cash, per his own disclosures, suddenly got the money to loan his campaign $700,000. Brazilian authorities have revived a long-moribund fraud investigation against him there, too. In the meantime, he’s in Congress, where he recently won placement on committees on small business and science, space, and technology, and he may get access to classified information, a privilege afforded to members of the House.
George Santos Isn’t Going Anywhere
(Politico) In normal times, the gross résumé inflation and other lies of Rep. George Santos would earn him a cold shoulder from all Republicans. But these are not normal times. As long as Republican leaders can count on Santos to vote the party line, he remains a net legislative asset for them.
Why George Santos Won’t Be Able to Fake His Way Through Congress
Peter King, former Republican member of Congress (1993-2021), representing parts of Long Island, served as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
(NYT) Not everyone elected to Congress is a candidate for sainthood or paragon of virtue, of course, but usually when a member is being investigated or under a cloud of suspicion, there is a history of experience to work from.
… I do not know Mr. Santos, but it is hard to see him as anything other than delusional if he thinks he can function or that there is a result of his continued service beyond deepening his own shame.
When you have no colleagues or friends on Capitol Hill who trust you, you get walled in pretty quickly, and it’s the voters who suffer.
There is also a potential political disaster looming for House Republicans, who run a real risk of losing their House majority because of this albatross called Santos. Republicans may not have won the House without New York unexpectedly picking up four seats in 2022. Those four and at least four other seats, however, could well be in serious jeopardy in 2024 if congressional Republicans continue to stand by Mr. Santos.
Heather Cox Richardson January 17, 2023
Today the bill for the elevation of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to House speaker began to come due. McCarthy promised the far-right members of his conference committee seats and far more power in Congress to persuade them to vote for him.
Now they are collecting.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was removed from committee assignments in the last Congress for her racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories as well as her encouragement of violence against Democrats, has a spot on the Homeland Security Committee. … Greene has not just that plum assignment, but another on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. That committee manages investigations and has emerged as a coveted spot for the far right as its members prepare to go after figures in the Biden administration. It now includes right-wing figures Greene, Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Scott Perry (R-PA), Byron Donalds (R-FL), and Gary Palmer (R-AL), all of whom refused to acknowledge President Joe Biden’s 2020 election.
Nate Cohn: The Coming Year of Republican Drama
Republican infighting promises to be the political story line of the year
(NYT) Kevin McCarthy’s slog to the speakership was a fitting enough way to start the year. No, it’s not a half-dozen entrants to a presidential primary.
It has been a few years since Republicans have held center stage in such drama. The last year might have been 2017, before Mr. Trump established his dominance over the Republican Party and inaugurated an era of relative peace and unity — something like a conservative Pax Romana or Pax Britannica.
But Mr. Trump’s dominance appears to be waning, and the fault lines and fissures of a still deeply factionalized Republican Party are being gradually re-exposed.
In some ways, Republicans are a tougher challenge for political analysts than Democrats, who can usually be analyzed on a simple ideological spectrum or with the readily available demographic traits of members or their supporters, like race and education.
The same can’t always be said for Republicans, a majority of whom are white conservatives. I do think educational attainment will be a central dividing line in this year’s Republican primary electorate, but good luck capturing the difference between Mr. McCarthy and the Freedom Caucus leader, Scott Perry — two conservative, California-born white Christians from evangelical denominations, ages 57 and 60 — based on demographics or their positions on the issues. It’s not Joe Biden versus Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that’s for sure.
Republicans Are Getting It Wrong About DeSantis and Florida
By Lulu Garcia-Navarro
those wanting to anoint him as the next great hope of the Republican Party should take a minute. Mr. DeSantis may look attractive now compared with the mess in Congress, but the Florida he has overseen is anything but paradise.
(NYT Opinion) While my home state’s popularity might indeed seem like good news for a governor with presidential ambitions, a closer look shows that Florida is underwater demographically. Most of those flocking there are aging boomers with deep pockets, adding to the demographic imbalance for what is already one of the grayest populations in the nation. This means that Florida won’t have the younger workers needed to care for all those seniors. And while other places understand that immigrants, who often work in the service sector and agriculture, two of Florida’s main industries, are vital to replenishing aging populations, Mr. DeSantis and the state G.O.P. are not exactly immigrant-friendly, enacting legislation to limit the ability of people with uncertain legal status to work in the state.
While Mr. DeSantis has been busy limiting what can be taught in schools, flying immigrants to Northern states and punishing “woke” Disney, working-class Floridians are being priced out of many Florida cities. Miami now surpasses Los Angeles and New York City as the least-affordable city for housing in the United States, and joining it in the top five is the once working-class South Florida Cuban-American bastion of Hialeah. Miami is also second in income inequality, with levels roughly comparable with Colombia’s and Panama’s. Rents are soaring across many other parts of the state as well. And health care costs are unbearably high compared with those in other parts of the country because workers in the state have to shoulder a higher percentage of premiums.
McCarthy’s George Santos problem
(Axios) Top Republicans are performing a balancing act between fully embracing Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) and abandoning him to a flurry of investigations and calls to resign.
Why it matters: It’s another headache that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) doesn’t need right now as he tries to get his razor-thin GOP majority off the ground following a chaotic speaker battle last week.
McCarthy said Wednesday that Santos will get committee assignments, telling reporters: “The voters elected him to serve. … In America today, you’re innocent until proven guilty.”
Driving the news: The Nassau County GOP on Wednesday called for Santos’ “immediate resignation” over reports that he fabricated huge swaths of his resume and background on the campaign trail.
House Narrowly Approves Rules Amid Concerns About McCarthy’s Concessions
After initially balking at a package of changes to House rules that enshrine concessions the speaker made to ultraconservative members, Republicans united to push them through.
House Republicans on Monday pushed through an overhaul of operating rules for the new Congress, overcoming the concerns of some rank-and-file members about concessions that Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to the hard right last week in the desperate and drawn-out process of securing his job.
Mr. McCarthy clinched the speaker’s gavel early Saturday after a historic 15 rounds of voting that stretched across five days, and after giving in to a sweeping series of demands from the ultraconservative rebels who opposed him, including allowing any single lawmaker to call a snap vote to oust him. The struggle underscored how difficult it would be for him to corral his narrow majority, and in the hours before the vote on Monday, he was already confronting his first challenge, uncertain whether he would have the votes even to approve the rules that would allow the House to begin legislative business.
The GOP Goes Down the Rabbit Hole
Welcome to the Republican Wonderland.
By Tom Nichols
(The Atlantic Daily) If you were hoping that a razor-thin majority in the House was going to moderate the behavior of congressional Republicans and create some sort of platform for governing, you are about to be disappointed. GOP House leaders have told us what to expect, and we should take them at their word.
… the new House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, also had a few things to say. The new House Republican majority, he tweeted on Sunday afternoon, would move in its first week to pass legislation to defund “the 87,000 new IRS agents,” establish a committee on the “weaponization of the federal government against citizens,” end Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil sales to China, and, in a nice flourish, hold “woke prosecutors accountable.”
The new House Judiciary chair, Jim Jordan, will lead the committee on “weaponization,” virtually guaranteeing that its hearings will turn into a festival of prancing nonsense that is unlikely to do very much but enhance Jordan’s visibility while he tears into U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies at the expense of American national security. (Jordan has also dropped unsubtle hints that he intends to impeach Joe Biden.)
Meanwhile, Jordan’s fellow leader in the Coalition of the Unhinged, Paul Gosar, also tweeted on Saturday that Republicans “will conduct a real investigation into J6. The effort to attempt a coup between traitor Gen. Mark Milley and [Nancy] Pelosi will be reviewed and exposed.” This, apparently, is a reference to when Pelosi, as speaker, called Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two days after January 6 because she was concerned that Trump might try to start a war as a diversion from his election loss. (She wasn’t alone: Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, among others, reportedly had the same concern. So did I.)
It’s Tempting to Laugh at McCarthy’s Struggles, but History Shows That This Type of Chaos Is Not a Joke
By Joanne B. Freeman, professor of history and American studies at Yale, author of “The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War” and a co-host of the politics and history podcast “Now & Then.”
(NYT Opinion) The House has elected a speaker, but that won’t put an end to the internecine Republican battles. They will continue, entangling Congress and stymieing national politics in the process. Politics is a team sport that requires captains, congressional politics, even more so. Today’s congressional Republicans are not a team; they have no captain and they have displayed their failings for all the world to see.
In effect, we’re witnessing the rupture of the Republican Party, the ultimate outcome of Republicans’ continuing failure to stand up to the extremism in their ranks. In choosing to remain silent in the face of their right wing’s politics of destruction, they have essentially endorsed it. Their silence in the face of Donald Trump’s lies and his election loss denial did much the same, laying the groundwork for the upheaval that we’re watching now.
That upheaval reflects the state of our nation — but it’s shaping the nation as well. The speakership battles of 1855-56 and 1859-60 schooled the nation in the power of sectional threats, defiance and even violent opposition. The public learned their lesson and responded in kind. The lessons of our speakership battle are yet unknown.
It’s encouraging to think that there are moderate Republicans who don’t support this brand of politics. There are certainly many. But until they organize themselves and oppose their in-house opposition, they’re pushing the nation ever closer to a dangerous edge — and defining the Republican Party in the process.
McCarthy fails for second day to win U.S. House speaker vote
(Reuters) The stalemate raised questions about Republicans’ ability to govern over the coming two years as they stumbled over what is usually a routine vote at the outset of a legislative session.
The leadership fight has provided a dismaying start for the new Republican majority in the House after the party managed to secure a slim 222-212 majority in November’s elections.
The internal struggle underscores the challenges the party could face over the next two years, heading into the 2024 presidential election.
Trump complicates GOP position as party of the Constitution
(The Hill) Former President Trump’s suggestion that the country do away with parts of the Constitution to redo the 2020 election has put Republicans – many of whom want to wrap themselves in the founding document – in a complicated position.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have said they support the Constitution, but like so many Republicans, including those in congressional leadership, they largely avoided addressing Trump specifically.
In Georgia runoff, GOP worries about Walker, Trump and party’s future
Republicans have grown increasingly nervous about an election that reflects larger concerns
By Sabrina Rodrigue, Hannah Knowles and Dylan Wells
(WaPo) The race between Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker caps a turbulent election season in which voters rejected many inexperienced Republican nominees tied to the former president and his ideas in favor of Democratic incumbents who tried to keep President Biden at arm’s length. Georgia, a purple state expected to factor heavily in the 2024 presidential election, is a final testing ground for these competing forces — and one that has generated plenty of GOP pessimism.
Politico: Virulently antisemitic comments by Ye spark new GOP criticism: A virulently antisemitic interview with Ye by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is sparking new GOP condemnation of the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, nine days after Ye brought a white supremacist to dine with Donald Trump. Ye appeared on Jones’ “InfoWars” show with Nick Fuentes, his guest during the Trump dinner — a known racist and antisemite
‘A deranged Anti-semite’: GOP outraged at Ye’s latest horror show
“I like Hitler,” Ye told right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, later adding: “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.”
Republicans who once seemed to revel in associating with the rapper and his vocal support for Trumpism, have grimaced as Ye’s behavior has become increasingly erratic and hateful in recent weeks. But Thursday’s interview was a breaking point for some of them.
Arizona’s GOP governor congratulates Hobbs on victory as Lake refuses to concede
Hobbs was declared the winner of the high-profile gubernatorial race last week, and [Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R)] on Wednesday met with her and offered his full support to begin the transition amid GOP allegations of voter disenfranchisement.
Lake, an ally of former President Trump, has declined to concede the race despite Hobbs leading her by about 17,000 votes, a margin above the threshold that triggers an automatic recount.
Mike Pence, pondering a presidential run, condemns Trump’s rhetoric on Jan. 6
(NPR) Former Vice President Mike Pence’s new memoir recounts his life up to the moment when he refused to overturn the 2020 election defeat of then-President Donald Trump.
So Help Me God is the kind of polished life story that is often a preliminary for a presidential run, which Pence is considering. Coincidentally or not, the book’s release date, Nov. 15, was exactly the date that Trump declared his run for the presidency in 2024.
A Crowd of Possible Trump Rivals Renews G.O.P. Fears of a Divided Field
Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley and other Republicans with a potential eye on 2024 gathered in Las Vegas at a moment of deep vulnerability for Donald Trump.
(NYT) The annual gathering over the weekend of the Republican Jewish Coalition — a group whose leaders include some of the party’s biggest and most dependable contributors — came at a moment of deep vulnerability for Mr. Trump, following a disappointing midterm election for Republicans that many blamed on the former president.
Yet the glut of possible Trump rivals crisscrossing the windowless corridors of the hotel had some Republicans suffering a foreboding sense of déjà vu: That a fractured Republican field in 2024 could — as it did in 2016 — clear the way for Mr. Trump to win the nomination because of his durable hold on a fraction of the party base.
Paul Ryan blames Trump for Republicans’ midterm losses
(Axios) “I was not a never-Trumper,” Ryan said on ABC’s This Week. “But I am a never-again Trumper. Why? Because I want to win. And we lose with Trump.”
“What we now know, it’s pretty clear is, with Trump, we lose,” he said. “I don’t mean this personally — it’s just evidence.”
“It’s palpable right now. We get past Trump, we start winning elections. We stick with Trump, we keep losing elections, that’s just how I see it.”
DeSantis won, but DeSantis-ism lost
His politics played well in Florida, but failed elsewhere.
By Michael A. Cohen, MSNBC Opinion Columnist
“We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”
With these fighting words, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hailed his sweeping re-election victory last week. DeSantis trounced his opponent, Democrat Charlie Crist, by 1.5 million votes. … But while Tuesday was a big win for DeSantis, it was a loser for “DeSantis-ism.” His war on wokeness, attacks on liberals, and divisive culture war politics played well in Florida, but elsewhere it landed with a resounding thud.
DeSantis draws contrast with Trump as party hunts for 2024 alternative
Without mentioning the former president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted lessons from his reelection campaign that separate him from Donald Trump
All indications are that Trump will not be contending one-on-one with DeSantis.
Just today, Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state who may run against Trump, was on Twitter calling for “ more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood .” Former Vice President Mike Pence, who may also run, repeated his line that Republicans will have “ better choices ” in 2024, a sentiment echoed by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson , also a potential candidate.
The GOP prepares to tear itself apart
By Paul Waldman
In the wake of their surprisingly poor showing in the midterm elections, and with the former president apparently set to announce his 2024 bid for the White House, Republicans are preparing for a period of brutal intramural conflict. Suddenly, the party that remade itself in Trump’s image isn’t sure it likes what it sees in the mirror. …
It isn’t just Trump being questioned. A group of influential conservatives released an open letter calling on the party to delay its congressional leadership elections scheduled for this week. It’s less than clear what they’re after, but Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are both fending off doubts about their leadership.
One of the notable features of all this conflict is how disorganized it is. Some people have a beef with McCarthy or McConnell. Some are upset with Trump. Some want to put all their election denialism behind them. And many are just angling for their own advantage. Unlike in previous moments of tumult, it’s hard to draw a clear line between the establishment and the insurgents.
McCarthy survives leadership challenge; Scott to challenge McConnell in Senate
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was nominated by fellow Republicans to be speaker in the next Congress, surviving a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) on a 188-to-31 vote. The real test will be in January, when McCarthy must win a majority vote of the full House — 218 votes — which could require offering concessions to disaffected Republicans. The vote comes as Republicans are on the cusp of winning a majority in the House as counting in last week’s midterms continues. Republicans failed to gain the majority in the Senate and the fallout from the disappointing performance was evident as Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Tuesday announced a challenge to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Congressional Republicans panic as they watch their lead dwindle
Private consternation reached a public boiling point Friday as lawmakers in both chambers confronted the fallout from Tuesday’s elections
By Marianna Sotomayor, Jacqueline Alemany, Azi Paybarah, Liz Goodwin and Michael Scherer
(WaPo) With control of the House and Senate still undecided, angry Republicans mounted public challenges to their leaders in both chambers Friday as they confronted the possibility of falling short of the majority, eager to drag Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) down from their top posts as consequence.
The narrowing path for Republican victory has stunned lawmakers from both parties, freezing plans for legislation and leadership maneuvers as they wait to see who takes control and learn the margins that will dictate which ideological factions wield power. Regardless of the outcome, the lack of a “red wave” marks a devastating outcome for Republicans, who believed they would cruise to a large governing majority in the House and possibly flip the Senate.
The GOP faces a small but real prospect that it may not reclaim the House majority despite high pre-election hopes based on the disapproval of President Biden, record inflation and traditional losses for the party that holds the White House. Late Friday, Democrats moved one Senate seat closer to retaining their majority in the chamber as Sen. Mark Kelly won reelection in Arizona. Winning either in Nevada — which was still counting votes — or in Georgia, where a runoff is set for Dec. 6, would allow them to stay in power.
Why the right keeps telling awful lies about the Pelosi attack
The “big lie” is morphing into something even more virulent and ugly. Call it the “big flex.”
In 2020, Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud provided a fake pretext to overturn his presidential election loss. Now that has metastasized: Many Republicans in the MAGA vein are employing “big lies” on numerous fronts, but their purpose has taken a dark new turn: It’s as if all the lying is becoming an assertion of power in its own right, a kind of end in itself.
Unlike Trump, DeSantis is showing a populist can be presidential in a crisis
(WaPo) …as Hurricane Ian approached, DeSantis did something Trump seemed unable or unwilling to do: He flipped a switch and became the very model of a chief executive leading in a time of crisis. At his news briefings, he has been all business — updating Floridians on the growing strength of the storm, evacuation plans for those in vulnerable locations, instructions for finding shelter and the deployment of line crews to restore power in affected areas; he outlined plans to address gasoline shortages and cellphone service blackouts and warned citizens not to drive through flooded roads. He demonstrated bipartisanship, praising President Biden’s emergency declaration and pledging to work hand in hand with his administration. “You’ve got people’s lives at stake, you’ve got their property at stake, and we don’t have time for pettiness,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday. “We gotta work together to make sure we’re doing the best job for them.”
DeSantis understands that in a crisis, when Americans are scared and confused, they want information and they want action — not political theater.
…he is showing that, unlike the 45th president, he can take the fight to Biden one day and work with him to help storm-battered Floridians the next. He can provoke the left like a conservative populist, but also govern like a conservative reformer and lead like a president in times of crisis. Watching him manage this crisis, conservatives should see a leader who can give them everything they love about Trump, without the belligerence and bad judgment. Even before the hurricane, a poll of Florida Republicans — the voters who know him best — showed him leading Trump by eight points in a hypothetical primary.
4 charts that show the GOP’s 2022 popularity gap
A month ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said out loud what many Republicans were undoubtedly feeling. Effectively, the message was: We’ve got a shot at a good 2022 midterm election, but some of these Trump candidates could screw it all up for us.
At the time, there was evidence of a GOP candidate problem — especially in the lagging poll numbers of some key Senate candidates.
Today, there’s considerably more.
A surprise poll finding shows the GOP’s Dobbs problem getting worse
(WaPo) It was a long-accepted rule in U.S. politics: Yes, a majority of Americans are pro-choice, but on the antiabortion side, there is a lopsided intensity of feeling. That notion has often been given great weight in parsing the politics of abortion.
But a new poll from the New York Times and Siena College provides another reminder that the rule might be obsolete. If that’s right, it could scramble expectations about the midterm elections.
Democrats Buoyed by Abortion and Trump, Times/Siena Poll Finds
(NYT) For now, the fury over abortion and the renewed spotlight on Mr. Trump have helped mask deep Democratic vulnerabilities that might ultimately make Republicans favored to retake Congress — if Republicans could refocus the electorate on the economy and inflation. Republicans would lead by six percentage points in the race for Congress, if they could merely win over voters who say they agree with the G.O.P. most on the economy.
The survey underscored how Republicans have been weakened by Mr. Trump’s decision to play a vocal role in his party’s primaries. Voters said that the word “extreme” described the Republicans better than the Democrats by a six-point margin, 43 to 37 percent. And, although they deemed economic issues most important, more voters said that Democrats were focused on the most important issues than said that Republicans were, by 40 to 38 percent.
The GOP Respose to Biden’s Democracy Speech Proves His Point Yep, they are dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump.
the Republican Party…treated the entire thing, including its critique of Trumpism, as an attack on them.
By Jonathan Chait
Last week, President Biden delivered a speech warning that Donald Trump’s authoritarian movement posed a threat to American democracy. The Republican response did more to confirm his point than anything he said.
Biden’s main argument was simple: A wing of the Republican Party aligned with Trump refuses to renounce violence, respect the integrity of elections, or accept the rule of law. Biden argued that this faction composes a minority of the party, but has been able to bully the party’s officials into compliance:
Biden’s main argument was simple: A wing of the Republican Party aligned with Trump refuses to renounce violence, respect the integrity of elections, or accept the rule of law. Biden argued that this faction composes a minority of the party, but has been able to bully the party’s officials into compliance:
Max Boot: The GOP reaction to Biden’s speech shows that his anti-MAGA strategy is working
With Midterms Looming, McConnell’s Woes Pile Up
The minority leader who takes pride in his status as the “grim reaper” of his rivals’ agenda has allowed Democrats to claim policy victories as his party’s hopes of reclaiming the Senate dim.
By Annie Karni
(NYT) …the man known best for his ability to block and kill legislation — he once proclaimed himself the “grim reaper” — has felt the political ground shift under his feet. Democrats have, in the space of a few months, managed to pass a gun safety compromise, a major technology and manufacturing bill, a huge veterans health measure, and a climate, health and tax package — either by steering around Mr. McConnell or with his cooperation.
At the same time, the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade appears to have handed Democrats a potent issue going into the midterm elections, brightening their hopes of keeping control of the Senate.
Mr. McConnell has acknowledged the challenges. He conceded recently that Republicans had a stronger chance of winning back the House than of taking power in the Senate in November, in part because of “candidate quality.”
Biden distinguishes mainstream Republicans from MAGA Republicans
By Patrick Marley
President Biden early in his speech Thursday distinguished mainstream Republicans from MAGA Republicans, who he said make up a minority of the party.
By making that distinction, he appeared to seek to force Republicans running this fall to say how much they support former president Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 election was wrongly called for Biden.
Democrat Mary Peltola wins special election in Alaska, defeating Palin
Peltola’s win flips a seat that had long been in Republican hands. She will serve the remainder of a term left open by the sudden death of Rep. Don Young (R) in March.
Buyer’s remorse could be creeping in for GOP on abortion
A viral video of a South Carolina GOP state legislator crystallizes the dilemma the party faces, as do multiple electoral indicators
(WaPo) The signs are disparate, inconclusive and perhaps not fully applicable to the 2022 midterm elections. But virtually everything since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade back in June suggests Republicans have a political problem on their hands now that they’ve obtained their long-sought goal of being able to severely restrict and even ban abortion.
Growing Evidence Against a Republican Wave
Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, it has been increasingly hard to see the once-clear signs of a G.O.P. advantage.
(NYT) At the beginning of this year’s midterm campaign, analysts and political operatives had every reason to expect a strong Republican showing this November. President Biden’s approval rating was in the low 40s, and the president’s party has a long history of struggling in midterm elections.
But as the start of the general election campaign nears, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find any concrete signs of Republican strength.
Tuesday’s strong Democratic showing in a special congressional election in New York’s 19th District is only the latest example. On paper, this classic battleground district in the Hudson Valley and Catskills is exactly where the Republicans would be expected to flip a seat in a so-called wave election. But the Democrat Pat Ryan prevailed over a strong Republican nominee
Liz Cheney says she’s ‘thinking’ about running for president in 2024.
Ms. Cheney — who lost her House primary by more than 35 percentage points on Tuesday to Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman, — also announced the formation of a political action committee, the Great Task, that would educate Americans about threats to democracy and oppose any effort by Mr. Trump to return to the White House.
The committee filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday. Its name refers to the Gettysburg Address, in which President Abraham Lincoln said that “the great task remaining before us” was to ensure “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
It is a reference Ms. Cheney has made often, including in her concession speech on Tuesday night.
Here’s what Liz Cheney’s loss says about the state of the G.O.P. her lopsided defeat in Wyoming on Tuesday also exposed the remarkable degree to which the former president still controls the party’s present — and its near future.
Two women, two Republican parties
(Brookings) Two Republican women were on the ballot. Their candidacies say a great deal about the war within the Republican Party.
The Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election is still spreading. Amy Gardner in the Washington Post reports that 54 out of 87 Republican nominees in the states that were battlegrounds in 2020 are election deniers. Had they held power in 2020, they could have overturned the votes for Biden and given the election to Trump. In the 41 states that have already winnowed their candidates, more than half the Republicans—250 candidates in 469 contests—claim to believe the lie that Trump won in 2020.
Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds
GOP nominees who dispute the 2020 results could be positioned to play a critical role in the next presidential election
By Amy Gardner
(WaPo) Across the battleground states that decided the 2020 vote, candidates who deny the legitimacy of that election have claimed nearly two-thirds of GOP nominations for state and federal offices with authority over elections, according to a Washington Post analysis. Had those candidates held power in 2020, they would have had the electoral clout to try something that the current officeholders refused: overturning the vote and denying Biden the presidency.
GOP ‘message laundering’ turns violent, extremist reactions to search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago into acceptable political talking points
(The Conversation) After the FBI completed a lawful search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 8, 2022, conservative politicians responded with one of three strategies: silence, circumspection and attack.
Many responses echoed Trump’s own framing of the search. In his Aug. 8 message he claimed his residence was “under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”
The impulse to hastily legitimize Trump’s perspective illustrates a dangerous rhetorical strategy frequently employed by GOP politicians during the Trump era: message laundering.
Message laundering occurs when inflammatory language and/or unsubstantiated claims are mixed with mainstream partisan communication and presented to the public with an air of respectability. Just as money laundering enabled mobsters to disguise their ill-gotten gain as the profits of a legitimate business, message laundering presents dishonest and dangerous speech as credible, innocuous or persuasive.
Some Republicans Make a More Restrained Case for Defending Trump
When some G.O.P. members of Congress attacked the nation’s top law enforcement agencies immediately after the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, it underscored deep fissures within the party.
Immediately after the search, congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, reacted with fury, attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies. Some called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., and others invoked the Nazi secret police, using words like “gestapo” and “tyrants.”
On Sunday, more moderate voices in the party chastised their colleagues for the broadsides against law enforcement, making a more restrained case for defending Mr. Trump while also carrying out oversight of the Justice Department.
Republicans begin adjusting to a fierce abortion backlash.
(NYT) Republican candidates, facing a stark reality check from Kansas voters, are softening their once-uncompromising stands against abortion as they move toward the general election, recognizing that strict bans are unpopular and that the issue may be a major driver in the fall campaigns.
In swing states and even conservative corners of the country, several Republicans have shifted their talk on abortion bans, newly emphasizing support for exceptions. Some have noticeably stopped discussing details at all. Pitched battles in Republican-dominated state legislatures have broken out now that the Supreme Court has made what has long been a theoretical argument a reality.
Autocratic Hungarian leader Orban hailed by US conservatives
(AP) — Hungary’s autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged cheering American conservatives on Thursday to “take back the institutions,” stick to hardline stances on gay rights and immigration and fight for the next U.S. presidential election as a pivotal moment for their beliefs.
The exuberant cheers and standing ovations at the Conservative Political Action Conference for the far-right prime minister, who has been criticized for undermining his own country’s democratic institutions, demonstrated the growing embrace between Orban and Republicans in the U.S.
He mocked the media in this country and in Europe. And in a speech he titled “How We Fight,” Orban told the crowd gathered in a Dallas convention ballroom to focus now on the 2024 election, saying they had “two years to get ready,” though he endorsed no candidate or party.