Discover more from The Bulwark
Arizona's Groomer-in-Chief of Crazy
Plus: Trump will burn it all down
“I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member” ―Groucho Marx
My friendly suggestion to our friends in the GOP: You really should take time to read A.B. Stoddard in this morning’s Bulwark. In case it has not yet dawned on you: Donald Trump is not going quietly. If he can’t dominate the party, he’ll burn the whole thing down.
I made the same point last week, but apparently some of the smartest GOPers remain stuck on delusion. Exhibit A:
When Jonathan Karl recently asked Paul Ryan about the threat of Trump filing for an independent candidacy, Ryan replied, “then he gives the left the country. And I think he would not want to be blamed for doing that.”
Again: Republicans who have never—ever—seen Donald Trump motivated by shame cannot base their plan to exile him on shame. In 2016, he accused Ben Carson of having a pathological temper and showed up to debate Hillary Clinton with women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment and assault. Complete and utter imperviousness to shame is one of Trump’s superpowers.
As for a gracious concession if he is bested in the primaries, AYFKM?
So the insanity will continue. Which brings me to Arizona.
While the 2022 election may — overall — have been a return to normalcy, you would certainly not know it by listening to the parade of conspiracists, whackjobs, nutters, and extremists who showed up at a Maricopa County public hearing on whether to certify the election results.
There was this woman, who suggested that election officials could face “the death penalty” for “treason,” and raised the possibility of violent revolution.
I will not repeat your election crimes. I will just say [that] not certifying the machines constitutes a form of interference. And, in case no one has enlightened you people, interference in elections in the United States of America, Mr. Gates, is a capital offense, considered treason punishable by the death penalty. So it’s obvious why you, [Katie] Hobbs and Deep State Ducey are desperate to keep their cronies in office…...
We want a new 2022 state election not run by the people at this desk or Katie Hobbs….
I will just say this: the voting booth is supposed to be…
[Moderator: Your Time is up]
..a time for peaceful revolution. Those who make peaceful impossible will make violent revolution necessary.
[Moderator: Your time is up again.]
Then there was someone’s Nana, who had some thoughts and prayers about snails, slime, cooking pots, and “bloodstained fields of…slaughtered wicked men.”
You high and mighty politicians don’t even know the meaning of the word fairness.
Which of you has any left? Not one. All your dealings are crooked you get justice in exchange for bribes.
These men are born sinners, lying from their earliest words. they are poisonous deadly snakes, cobras that close their ears to the most expert of charmers.
Oh God break off their fangs; tear out the teeth of the young lions.
Let us pray.
Lord, let them disappear like water into thirsty ground. Make their weapons useless in their hands; let them be as snails that dissolve into slime and as those who die at birth, who never see the sun. [Psalms 58:8]
God will sweep away both old and young. He will destroy them more quickly than a cooking pot can feel the blazing fire of thorns beneath it. [Psalm 58:9-11]
The godly shall rejoice in the triumph of the right; they shall walk in the bloodstained fields of the slaughtered wicked men.
Then at last everyone will know that good is rewarded and that there is God who judges justly here on earth. Thank you.
The hearing also attracted chronic election deniers like former college professor and election fraud conspiracy theorist David Clements, an habitué of Steve Bannon’s podcast.
As the Wapo reported, Clements “has taken his message nationwide, traveling to small towns in more than a dozen states, with a focus, he said, on places that are ‘forgotten and abandoned and overlooked.’
His crusade to prove that voting systems can’t be trusted has deepened fears among election experts, who say his meritless claims could give Trump allies more fodder to try to disrupt elections in November and beyond….
Clements is one among a tightknit circle of Trump supporters who travel the country as self-appointed election fraud evangelists. They embrace the instructions of leaders like former Trump adviser turned podcaster Stephen K. Bannon, who has urged election deniers to run for local races and sign up to be poll workers in what he calls his “precinct-by-precinct” takeover strategy.
You are vote traffickers. Criminals.
What will you do about it? You sold us out. You sold us out. You sold us out.
So we are not here to be civil. You’re worried about language? We’re worried about our voices being stolen, and never getting a fair election again.
That’s what we are worried about. So a curse upon you! A curse upon all of you the smug, smug people.
Meanwhile, the state’s leading Groomer of Crazy, Kari Lake, continues to deploy her apparently limitless supply of lens filters, to egg on the madness, urging people to commit acts that would get them arrested and charged with felonies:
It’s not just crazy. It’s stupid, too.
(Bloomberg) -- A rural Arizona county’s refusal to certify the results of the November election could cost Republicans a seat in the US House of Representatives, where they hold a narrow seven-seat majority.
And, of course, the Groomer-of Crazy-in-Chief continues his midnight rages from Mar-a-Lago.
May I make a modest observation here:
It would take a mass psychotic breakdown for this to be a mass political movement that will win national elections. I’m not naïve enough to rule that out, but this sort of thing does not seem to be a winning strategy. Grandma’s crazy rants are not the golden ticket to 2024, are they?
Belatedly, it has dawned on some Republicans that there was, in fact, a downside to humoring Trump and his legions of spittle-flecked, paranoid followers. But this is his base, and he’s not going to abandon them now. To the contrary, the folks you see down in Arizona are more likely to show up at a MAGA rally near you, side by side with Kari, My Pillow Dude, and the guy on your bus mumbling about space lasers.
Of course, we’ve seen how tribal and how crazy our politics have become. But at some point, voters also will also decide whether they want to be part of that tribe.
How many suburban swing voters will look at the Arizona Crazy and say to themselves, Yes, please, I want to join that club?
Morning Shots is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
1. Just Wait Until You Get to Know Ron DeSantis
People who know him better and have watched him longer are skeptical of his ability to take on the former president. DeSantis, they say, is no thoroughbred political athlete. He can be awkward and plodding. And Trump tends to eviscerate guys like that.
“He was standoffish in general,” the Virginia Republican Barbara Comstock, a former House colleague of DeSantis’s, told me.
“A strange no-eye-contact oddball,” Rick Wilson, a Republican media consultant, wrote on Resolute Square.
“I’d rather have teeth pulled without anesthetic than be on a boat with Ron DeSantis,” says Mac Stipanovich, a Tallahassee lobbyist who set sail from the GOP over his revulsion for Trump and his knockoffs. To sum up: DeSantis is not a fun and convivial dude. He prefers to keep his earbuds in. His “Step away from the vehicle” vibes are strong.
2. China’s Torment Is a Reminder of What We Have
As Americans grow envious of authoritarian government, writes Mona Charen, the Chinese yearn for democracy.
People in democratic countries often fantasize about “being China for a day” in order to achieve their policy goals. And, if not quite endorsing authoritarianism, they imagine that it is effective. In 2020, for example, a survey of 120,000 people from 53 countries found that 60 percent thought China had handled COVID-19 well, while only about a third thought the same about the United States.
So, at this moment, when thousands of Chinese are protesting throughout the nation, we need to remind ourselves of just how terrible unfreedom is. Did we make mistakes in the way we handled a once-in-a-century pandemic? Of course we did. But we have a free press and disbursed, decentralized power through our federal system and independent courts. Accountability, while imperfect, is built into the system.
3. Stuck With Ronna
Amanda Carpenter asks: How does such a loser become the longest-serving RNC chair in modern history?
Ronna McDaniel is, apparently, one of only two people in the entire universe of Republicans willing and dopey enough to want the job in the current iteration of Donald Trump’s Republican party. Keep in mind, this is supposed to be a prestigious job—a first-class ticket into the fat-cat GOP donor world. She gets to raise and deploy hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle! What power! What influence! Yet the only other person openly challenging her for the position is election denier extraordinaire, Hardee’s parking lot search-warrant recipient, and perpetual Bannon “War Room” guest MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
4. The Holodomor, 90 Years Later
Cathy Young writes: Stalin’s terror famine in Ukraine—long denied by the Soviets and their Western sympathizers—has taken on a renewed relevance in 2022.
To Ukrainians, the Holodomor—literally “death by hunger”—is a genocide, the direct result of Joseph Stalin’s strategy to crush Ukrainian resistance to Kremlin rule by using food, and starvation, as a weapon. The Russian political establishment under Vladimir Putin has ferociously disputed this view, zigzagging between outright denial that the famine was a result of deliberate Soviet strategy and insistence that Stalin’s intent was to terrorize the peasantry as a class, not Ukrainians as a nation. The second position has adherents among respected historians and is a legitimate subject of debate. But Russia’s current war, which includes not only weaponizing grain deliveries but blatantly attempting to force Ukraine into submission by destroying essential services and infrastructure—and which relies on unhinged, in many cases openly exterminationist rhetoric normalized on Russian state television—certainly makes the view of the Holodomor as anti-Ukrainian genocide more credible and more compelling.