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A Bad Night for Trump’s Big Lie
Plus: Our gun debate doom loop.
“I’m tired. I am so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I am so tired of the—excuse me, I’m sorry—I am tired of the moments of silence. Enough!” — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr
We are all tired. But a nation that was not shocked into action by the massacre of innocents at Sandy Hook is unlikely to be moved by the latest horror.
As Politico’s Tyler Weyant wrote last night: “Mass shootings have become America’s copy and paste tragedy. We change the place, the town, the number of dead and injured. But the constant is lives lost, people who cannot be brought back, and the nation is left in a numb daze.”
This latest tragedy in Uvalde is not “unspeakable,” because we need to describe it. And, as Sam Stein noted, it is no longer “unimaginable.”
“We saw ten people killed at a grocery store last week,” he tweeted. “We saw an elementary school shot up with 20 kids dead less than ten years ago. It’s very much imaginable now.”
Before we descend into the predictable doom loop of talking points, clichés, thoughts/prayers, and dumb arguments about armored backpacks and good-guys-with-guns, take a moment to imagine the final moments of the lives of those children and their teachers. The fear. The horror. Followed by the ghastly carnage committed by an 18-year-old with an AR-15.
The latest shooting left 21 dead — 21 worlds destroyed. And the rest of us can only try to imagine the grief of the parents, grandparents, husbands, children, brothers, and sisters.
Hanging over all of this, there is also the sure knowledge that nothing — absolutely nothing — will be done except the usual expense of spirit in a waste of shame. We know that it will happen again.
So yes, this is a time for grief. But also for incandescent anger.
About those primaries
A stunning repudiation of Trump’s Big Lie in Georgia; a Bush goes down in Texas; Sarah Huckabee emerges as a MAGA star…
The Bulwark team weighs in on last night’s elections:
The biggest upset of the night wasn’t Gov. Brian Kemp’s absolute demolition of the execrable David Perdue, but Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unexpectedly clearing the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff with Congressman Jody Hice.
Hice was handpicked by Trump to challenge Raffensperger for refusing to “find” him 11,000 votes in the 2020 election.
Pundits had been leaving Raffensperger for dead, but there were a couple of signs that a win was within reach:
1. Focus groups showed that challenger Jody Hice wasn’t breaking through with voters:Good news for Brad Raffensperger in the GA Secretary of State race: No one in a focus group of GOP GA voters had heard of challenger Jody Hice. When told about Hice, most of the group assumed he was a woman. Was looking grim for Raf, but chance he could slip by on incumbency.
2. Perdue was cratering so badly that Trump steered clear of Georgia in the months leading up to the election:One interesting dynamic is that because Perdue’s challenge to Kemp flatlined, Trump hasn’t been as active in the state. So voters aren’t being constantly reminded about Raffensperger’s role in thwarting Trump’s attempts to overturn the Georgia election results.
Regardless of your political party, if you care about having elected officials with integrity oversee our elections—especially in contested swing states like Georgia—you should see Raffensperger’s win as a win for democracy.
Remember, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Herschel Walker also both crushed their primaries in Georgia last night. The party is—and the 2022 GOP candidates are—still overwhelmingly Trumpy. It just turns out that Trump can’t run a C team against a slate of incumbents—especially with the length of Kemp’s coattails.
Suffice it to say, George P. Bush’s political choices have been pretty gross from my vantage point, so it's hard to not feel a little vindication in seeing how little they paid off. But I think it’s important to step back and look at this race without any schadenfreude-colored glasses. Yes, GPB sucked up to Trump. But he didn't really go along with the Big Lie. He’s not a criminal. He’s not a racist. He’s a replacement-level Republican in MAGA clothing who wouldn’t actually bring about an end to our democracy if push came to shove. And if he’s not your brand of tea, well, there was another candidate running, Eva Guzman, who was offering basically the same brew with some less Bushy packaging.
But rather than choose either of those perfectly fine MAGA fakers, Texas Republicans overwhelmingly backed America’s Craziest Attorney General (a high bar). The LAW AND ORDER party in Texas wants the state’s top cop to be a kleptomaniac insurrectionist who was indicted for securities fraud. To add insult to injury, as he awaited the returns that would give him a blowout victory Paxton went on Fox News to say that Texas’s response to a school shooting in the state that resulted in 19 CHILDREN dying on his watch should be arming and training teachers. I guess Ken’s plan is for the 2nd grade social studies teacher to be deft enough to escort her kids to safety while firing a few stray rounds at the next 18-year-old shooter wearing military-style tactical body armor. As Paxton put it, the state just doesn’t have the resources to safeguard the schools themselves, so this is the best available option.
In short, Texas Republican voters have decided that they are just fine with the mass murders, corruption, and full frontal attacks on our democracy continuing unabated, so long as the state’s attorney general is doing his real job of owning the libs.
MAGA hailed Sarah Huckabee Sanders as the new symbol of female empowerment after she won the GOP primary for Arkansas governor. Example: Glenn Greenwald gushed, “Sarah Huckabee Sanders poised to smash the glass ceiling, becoming the first woman elected governor in Arkansas’ history.” If only all women had the advantage of inheriting their father’s seat. Imagine how many glass ceilings could be smashed then!
Spurning Washington to come back home to Arkansas was a big part of her campaign. “When I worked at the White House, nobody ever cheered when I went up to the podium,” she said. “This is different, but I like it a whole lot better.” She must be enjoying the escape from mean jokes, reports about her lying about FBI officials, and getting the proper restaurant service she feels entitled to receive.
As one would expect, the former Trump White House Press Secretary-turned Fox News Contributor-turned candidate leaned hard into culture war issues and kept close ties to Trump. Although, she did play coy about Trump’s false claims of the stolen election— ” We know there is fraud in every election,” she said. “How far and wide it went, I don’t think that will be something that will be ever determined.”
She railed against the teaching of critical race theory, supported Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, and said she would have signed a law to ban minors from receiving hormones, puberty blockers, and transition-related surgeries that outgoing GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed.
But it’s the upcoming Supreme Court decision that might overturn Roe v. Wade that could put Sanders and her hardline views on social issues back in the national spotlight. “I am unapologetically pro-life across the board,” Sanders recently affirmed. When asked about exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life, Sanders answered, “I would not push for any exceptions.”
Kemp win good. Raffensperger great.
So in the big five swing states, Georgia looks for now at least (and who knows how crazed the R state legislators could be) unlikely to engage in election overturning.
But if Republicans win in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona—no such confidence, to say the least.
Georgia is heartening—but that we’re heartened that only 4 of the 5 key states will have R govs and parties that are for election nullification shows how low the bar has gotten.
Clusterf**k in Michigan
Five of 10 Republican candidates for the gubernatorial nomination in Michigan are ineligible to appear on the ballot because of invalid signatures on their nominating petitions, the Michigan elections bureau said in a report Monday, upending the race little more than two months before the August primary.
Those the elections bureau said were ineligible include former Detroit police chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, who have been considered the leading candidates for the GOP nomination for Michigan governor. Others were Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown and Michael Markey.
Why is the right ignoring the Southern Baptist abuse scandal?
It’s a mystery, really. Paul Waldman writes in the Wapo:
There are few things that members of the American right emphasize more often about themselves than their deep commitment to protecting children — particularly when it comes to the threat of sexual abuse. In recent months, they’ve shown how intense that commitment is by labeling just about anyone who supports equality for LGBTQ people as “groomers” who are preparing children to be sexually abused.
So when news broke this past weekend of a blockbuster report about sexual abuse (including of children) and a coverup within the Southern Baptist Convention, the GOP and conservative movement rose up in outrage. Republican politicians such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis demanded further investigation, QAnon adherents turned their focus to this conspiracy, and conservative media couldn’t stop talking about the story.
Actually, none of that happened. QAnon and its allies in politics seem uninterested. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and her QAnon-curious friends in Congress have not tweeted about it. Neither Tucker Carlson nor Laura Ingraham nor Sean Hannity brought it up on their Fox News shows the next evening.
A modest request: Stop.