How the Second Civil War Could Start
Plus, The Chaotic Politics of Lindsey Graham’s Abortion Bill.
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Did DeSantis Really Think This Through?
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
MAJOR GARRETT and DAVID BECKER: How the Second Civil War Could Start.
During the 2022 campaign, national Democrats were bracing for a tidal wave that might eject them from control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, crippling President Joe Biden’s agenda and possibly accelerating former president Trump’s formal announcement (he toyed with it throughout 2021 and 2022) as a candidate for the presidency in 2024. Democrats had long since lost patience with Republican accusations about the “stolen” 2020 election, which they came to believe led to a flurry of unnecessary and regressive laws in states dominated by Republican legislators. In Texas, a law passed that set new restrictions on mail-in ballot access, limited the use of drop boxes for early votes, and then went further by weaponizing and empowering hyperpartisan poll watchers to interfere with the voting process. This in a state where it was already harder to vote in than most other states. In states like Florida, Iowa, and Texas, professional election administrators found their efforts criminalized. In states like Arizona and Georgia, it appeared legislators were seizing control of elections by limiting the authority of election administrators at the state and county level, thereby creating the real possibility of partisan politicians rejecting the will of the voters. In several states—Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada—there were candidates running for secretary of state on a platform of denying elections and delivering outcomes for their preferred candidates. All of this was very much on the minds of national Democrats. Many were seething.
WILLIAM SALETAN: The Chaotic Politics of Lindsey Graham’s Abortion Bill.
Senate Republicans had a plan for handling the politics of abortion through the 2022 midterms. The plan was to defend the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision as a return to state control of abortion policy. That’s a more popular position than banning abortion nationwide, and it gives Republican Senate candidates in purple states license to duck the issue. They can signal to pro-choice voters that it’s safe to ignore abortion—and focus instead on inflation and other GOP-friendly issues—when deciding how to vote in federal elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell followed this playbook last week when reporters asked him about abortion. “Most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,” he said. In a nod to purple-state voters, he added: “Every Republican senator running this year in these contested races has an answer as to how they feel about the issue. And it may be different in different states.”
It’s a new era at CNN. Don Lemon’s moving to mornings, and some of the more outspoken anchors and correspondents, like Brian Stelter, have been cleared out. Plus, the goings-on at Politico, Semafor and Puck. Dylan Byers joins Charlie Sykes today.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
PEN America, the venerable organization formed in New York in 1922 as a sister group to PEN International to champion both literary fellowship and freedom of expression, marked its centennial with a symposium at the New-York Historical Society. The event turned out to have a stark and somber symbolism no one had anticipated: The original list of speakers included Salman Rushdie, the controversial author of The Satanic Verses. “There’s no one whose life experience and ethos is more closely entwined with our organization,” PEN CEO Suzanne Nossel told the audience at the event’s opening. “When the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa targeting Salman, his murderous decree offered a twisted testament to the influence of writers and the lengths to which governments will go to silence them.” But the plan for an onstage conversation with Rushdie about the Satanic Verses saga was, as Nossel put it, “sliced to shreds by a man with a knife” who tried to carry out Khomeini’s fatwa on August 12 at another literary event, that one in upstate New York.
Still, no one could have been more present in spirit: Rushdie was the subject of warm tributes from several speakers. Nigerian feminist writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke of the horrifying resonance of the attack, invoking “the brutal and barbaric intimacy of a person standing inches from you and forcefully plunging a knife into your flesh—and this, because you wrote.”
Of all the excuses he could muster, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s explanation that he flew some fifty asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard last week because “we are not a sanctuary state, and it’s better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction” might be the smarmiest. Indeed, most of the asylees were Venezuelans seeking sanctuary of a sort the United States has long provided those fleeing Communist regimes. DeSantis’s action scored him points among the Trumpian base of the GOP nationally, but it may backfire with his own state’s Venezuelan-origin population, who skewed Republican in 2020. The stunt seems particularly ironic given Republican Spanish-language ads in the last election that directly appealed to Venezuelan- and Cuban-American voters by depicting Joe Biden as an ideological comrade of Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro, and Fidel Castro and Donald Trump as a champion of freedom.
This is a point that must be emphasized: The Venezuelans whom DeSantis flew to Martha’s Vineyard were in the United States seeking asylum. They followed U.S. law. They are not “illegal aliens.”
Happy Tuesday! I got another Dollar Tree DVD find, a movie about chess, and as it would turn out, there is a lot of chess news coming down the pike.
What’s the news? A guide for the young people in your life.
QE2 addresses Congress… Worth 15 minutes of your time.
Not looking good for Trump… The “special master” play appears to be backfiring. Here’s a thread.
How POTUS travels… This is how they get “the beast” to far flung places.
Missile defense for the win? Let’s hope we don’t find out, but these scientists have egg on their faces.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.