Discover more from The Bulwark
Here Comes Chris Christie
New Jersey man brings the hot sauce
Catching up on a busy news day:
Conservatives kneecap Kevin McCarthy in surprise revolt.
Indictment watch intensifies. Ketchup on the walls at MAL.
The PGA sells out to the Saudis.
A human, ecological, and military disaster in Ukraine.
Tucker returns. To Twitter. And he’s still lying.
Mark Meadows. Flipped?
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Chris Christie brings it
Okay, so Mike Pence dropped his big announcement video this morning, which you can watch here. But the real buzz was generated by Christie’s scorched earth announcement last night. No, he’s not going to win. He has zero shot. And a ton of baggage. But this is going to be worth watching.
In a discussion yesterday, NBC’s Steve Kornacki noted that despite Christie’s poll numbers, he could still “land a punch against Trump.”
“Christie’s got a different stage presence, Christie’s got a different style” than other Republican candidates, Kornacki said. “I don’t know how it will work but if — and it’s a huge if given the polling criteria that’s going to be involved here — if Christie can make the debate stage, if Donald Trump shows up for it, and if Christie does what he’s telegraphing…he’s going to do, it could be a variable we haven’t seen since ’16. I don’t know if it elevates Christie, at all, in terms of his standing. But it could land a punch against Trump that nobody in nearly a decade now of watching Trump interact with the Republican Party — that nobody has managed to land.”
I pushed back on that a bit.
The Bulwark’s Charlie Sykes wasn’t quite as optimistic about a Trump-Christie debate.
“To Steve’s point about all the ifs about Chris Christie — first of all, Donald Trump is never going to get on a debate stage with Chris Christie. It’s just not going to happen, and Chris Christie is going to have to find a different way to punch back. He is a deeply flawed candidate, but he’s a fundamentally talented candidate, so it’s going to be interesting,” Sykes said.
Well, last night, the man brought some hot sauce to the party. Christie hit Trump’s narcissism, grift, lying, losing, and lousy record.
Going Through Trump (Politico)
“I am going to be very clear — I’m going out there to take out Donald Trump. But here’s why: I want to win, and I don’t want him to win,” Christie said. “There is one lane to the Republican nomination and he’s in front of it. And if you want to win, you better go right through him because let me guarantee something from knowing him for 22 years. He’s going to try to go through Ron [DeSantis] and Nikki [Haley] and Tim [Scott] and anyone else who stands in his way.”
The Narcissism (Via Boston Herald)
“A lonely, self-consumed, self-serving, mirror hog is not a leader,” he said. “So now we have pretenders all around us, who want to tell you ‘pick me, because I’m kind of like what you picked before, but not quite as crazy, but I don’t want to say his name.’ Because for these other pretenders, he is — for those of you who read the Harry Potter books — like Voldemort. He is he who shall not be named.”
“Well let me be clear, in case I have not been already,” he said to laughter.
“The person I am talking about, who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault, and who always finds someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right, is Donald Trump.”
The Grift (Axios)
“Let me tell you something, everybody,” he said. “The grift from this is breathtaking. It’s breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis? Two billion dollars from the Saudis. You think it’s ’cause some kind of investing genius? Or do you think it’s because he was sitting next to the president of the United States for four years doing favors for the Saudis?”
"If you think he wants to be your retribution, forget it. He's going to be retribution for one person and one person only himself."
Trump ending the war in 24 hours?
"Let me tell you how he would. He'd give Ukraine to Russia...He'd call Zelenskyy and say, 'Hey, guess what? Time to raise the Russian flag up on the pole. We're out of here.'"
Trump’s fiscal record
"He left with the biggest deficit of any president in American history. He said he was going to eliminate the national debt in 8 years. He added $3 trillion to the national debt in 4 years."
The Character Question (USA Today)
“Washington, Adams and Jefferson and Franklin and Hamilton were men of character. As was Abigail Adams, a woman of character," Christie said. "We can't dismiss the question of character anymore anybody. If we do, we get what we deserve."
Christie subtly cast himself as one of those leaders but added he is not a perfect person himself. His ability to admit his own flaws, he suggested to voters, is a sign of his character.
“If you are in search of the perfect candidate, it is time to leave,” Christie joked to voters. “I am not it. And not only am I not the perfect candidate, I'm far from the perfect person."
“If your leaders are not willing to admit to you that they're fallible, that they make mistakes, that they hurt like you, that they bleed like you and that they suffer disappointments and letdowns, beware." Christie continued.
[Christie was asked if he might pardon a convicted Trump.]
“I have to tell you the truth, I can’t completely answer that until I know what he was charged with and convicted of,” Christie said. “I’m not going to dodge the answer. But I will tell you as a prosecutor, if I believe someone has gotten a full and fair trial in front of a jury of their peers, and especially someone in public life, who committed those crimes when they held a public trust, I can’t imagine pardoning him.”
But Christie also had some fun with it — saying that “by accepting the pardon, the person must acknowledge their guilt,” so when it comes to Trump, “I’m completely in the clear.”
Exit take: The former NJ governor won’t win, but he could still end up becoming the most consequential candidate in the race, because he’s willing to go where other Republicans fear to tread.
Trump’s reaction? As juvenile and Trumpy and you might expect.
My Kevin’s lousy day
As our Joe Perticone reported yesterday: The House GOP had hoped to take a few messaging votes on legislation to protect gas stoves. But things went badly off the rails.
But these bills flopped right out of the gate, because members of the House Freedom Caucus, freshly declawed in the debt ceiling fiasco, opposed the rule vote Tuesday afternoon (a procedural hurdle before the actual bill hits the floor for debate). Just minutes ago, a dozen Republicans voted “no” on the rule and tipped the scales as a show of force to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the Republican leadership for leaving them behind in the debt deal. The 206-220 vote was the first time the House rejected a rule in 21 years.
The PGA sells out
Even in the rich annals of the sports world’s greed and hypocrisy, the PGA announcement Tuesday stands out as a special sort of grotesque and transparently cynical sell-out.
Here’s USA Today columnist Christine Brennan: “We’ve always known the male leaders of golf are spineless. We should have known how this was going to play out. History will not judge them well, at all.”
“The PGA Tour has wimped out — let's just say what it is — and they've gone into business with the Saudis, the people who killed Jamal Khashoggi, the people responsible for 9/11. I am shocked.”
The merger represented the most stunning success to date of Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a player in global sports. Yet unlike its purchase of a Premier League soccer team or its sponsorship of events as diverse as boxing cards and Formula 1 auto races, its billion-dollar play for control of golf seemed from the start like nothing less than an attempt to seize control of an entire sport — one that in the United States has occupied a rarefied place in the sports firmament for more than a century.
"PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed," 9/11 Families United chair Terry Strada wrote in a scathing take-down of golf's biggest powerhouse. "Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner [Jay] Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money."
Senator Chris Murphy:
The PGA Tour’s merger with LIV Golf, announced out of the blue on Tuesday morning, could be called a betrayal of every principle the PGA ever espoused. But you can only say that if you were ever enough of a sucker to believe the PGA had any in the first place. But it has been a rough day for PGA players who really did seem to subscribe to that idea. According to multiple reports, golfers who have spent the last two years defending Monahan’s arguments found out about the merger via social media. This was a necessary reminder that the PGA has never been a wholesome, ethical organization (its labor problems are just the tip of the iceberg). It only looked good compared to the alternative.
Exit take: “Monahan is being asked repeatedly about his past criticism of the morals of taking LIV and Saudi money. “I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite,” the PGA Tour commissioner said.”
And, of course, Trump bleated out: “GREAT NEWS FROM LIV GOLF. A BIG, BEAUTIFUL, AND GLAMOROUS DEAL FOR THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF GOLF. CONGRATS TO ALL!!!”
Former President Donald Trump's last White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has testified before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the special counsel's investigations into Trump, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.
Tucker on Twitter.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Via the Wapo: “Tucker Carlson drops first episode of bare-bones Twitter show.”
During his nearly seven years on Fox, Carlson’s show boasted prime-time production values, heavy with guests and graphics. By comparison, his “Tucker on Twitter” show featured the host sitting in front of bare wooden bookshelves and few graphics, aside from an illustration of Carlson fly-fishing. Some broadcast veterans observed that Carlson appeared to be controlling his teleprompter by himself.
His low-rent debut was just as deplorable as you might expect.
Carlson picked up some of his usual, conspiracy-theory-tinged topics and sympathies to the Russian government in the video, calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “sweaty and rat-like” and suggesting without evidence that Ukraine was responsible for the destruction of a major dam on its territory. He also accused mainstream media outlets of suppressing a claim from a former military officer that the U.S. government has secret knowledge of alien spacecraft.
1. Is the GOP Tiptoeing Toward Normality?
It’s too soon to breathe easy, writes Mona Charen, but something is stirring.
EVERY MORNING, before we open our eyes, every one of us must grapple with the excruciating possibility that Donald Trump could be re-elected. It’s the nightmare from which we cannot awake, at least for now. And yet, while we go through our days under this sword of Damocles, we can also detect that something is stirring in the Republican party. After eight vertiginous years of rot and decay made no less alarming by their often buffoonish character, the GOP seems to be taking some tentative steps toward normality.
2. Ukraine Dam Disaster: What Does It Mean for the War?
THE NOVA KAKHOVKA DAM, a massive concrete wall across the Dnipro River in the middle of Ukraine, collapsed Tuesday, threatening to flood large portions of southern Ukraine along both sides of the front lines. We know a little; we can predict a little more about what this might mean for the war in Ukraine; and we can suspect, with caveats, who might be at fault.
Sums it up nicely.