Discover more from The Bulwark
Liz Tried to Warn Them
Plus: Democrats face the illiberal left
The House GOP will try again today to pick a speaker. Quick reminder: Whatever happens, dysfunction is the new normal.
Emmer grovels for the gavel: Trump Revels in Speaker Hopeful Tom Emmer Kissing the Ring
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.),… asked each contender about whether they would conduct intense oversight of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland — the latter over his handling of detainees from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Via Punchbowl: The monumental challenges the next speaker will face
So you think this is bad, the interminable House Republican race for speaker?
Just wait until we get to the other side of this crisis.
If somebody — anybody — wins the speaker’s gavel over the next few days, this will likely be the least seasoned speaker in the post-Civil War era.
None of the eight candidates for the House’s top job has extensive time in a senior leadership role or been a major committee chair.
Of course, the next speaker will be the conference’s fourth choice. “Plan D,” if you will…
If only they had listened to Liz:
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Democrats confront the illiberal left
Based on some of the comments we get, many of you seem to doubt that there really is (a) an illiberal, anti-Israel left, and (b) it is actually a problem.
But, for many liberals, the last few weeks have been a rude reality check.
Like many American Jews, Jonah Goldman sides politically with the left, including its push for the rights of Palestinians.
During college, he was active in J Street, the liberal Jewish advocacy group that opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and lobbies for a two-state solution.
But in the aftermath of Hamas' gruesome raid on Israel this month, Goldman has never felt so isolated from people he long considered his allies.
He was shocked by how quickly friends mobilized for the Palestinian cause while failing to condemn the attack. The militants killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians — slaughtering families, including children — and taking about 200 more hostage.
Good people he never considered antisemitic suddenly seemed "supportive of Jewish genocide," he said.
Make sure you also read this remarkable piece by Peter Hamby in Puck (and note that everyone… everyone… quoted in this piece is a Democrat):
Strident anti-Israel beliefs have taken hold in a hugely important voting bloc for Democrats—Gen Z. Polls show that while most Americans and most Democrats are supportive of Israel’s right to respond, young Democrats are much more likely to support the Palestinans, as are young voters of color. A poll last week from NBC News and Generation Lab, which surveys college students, found that among self-identified Democrats on campuses, only half said Hamas was to blame for the terror attacks.
This is a generation that was reared on social media, a voting bloc that came of age understanding politics through the good-versus-evil fights of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump. Many voters under 30 are distrustful of institutions like the Democratic party and its traditional political orthodoxies. That includes, we are now seeing, the Democrats’ reflexive support for Israel, which doesn’t compute with purist ideas about colonialism, race, identity and social justice that define contemporary politics for so many people under the age of 30.
The misalignment goes both ways: Democratic politicians, even the millennial ones, are aghast that so many young progressives are speaking out against Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism.
New York Congressman Ritchie Torres, a 35-year old Democrat who represents swaths of the Bronx, told me he’s been disgusted with some of the young left’s rhetoric on Israel. “There are young people who have been indoctrinated with a hatred for Israel so visceral and fanatical that it renders them indifferent to the barbaric butchering of Israeli civilians and children,” Torres told me. “Anti-Israel hate and hysteria is a virus that has been spread on social media and in academia. There is an element of naivete and utopia here. If Israel entered into a ceasefire with a terrorist organization that butchered its babies to death, what would happen? Would Hamas abide by the ceasefire? Or feel more emboldened than ever before? … Israel’s right to defend itself is no less sacred than America’s right to defend itself.”
Massachusetts Rep. Jake Auchincloss, who represents a heavily Jewish district outside of Boston, expressed similar concerns about “the next generation of Democrats.” When I talked to Auchincloss on the phone last week, he stressed to me that the Democrats in Congress, and most Democratic voters, are aligned with President Biden’s diplomatic efforts to support Israel while also urging them to respond in Gaza with caution. But Auchincloss, 35, condemned the younger voices on campuses reflexively attacking Israel—and posting about it in the process.
“What I’m seeing on campuses is what I think of as illiberal leftism,” he told me. “I worry about Gen Z. Colleges are increasingly illiberal, and there is a rise of illiberal progressivism that is hostile to the concept of individual rights, free expression, free enterprise, free inquiry.” Too many young activists, he said, view the conflict through the academic lens of colonialism. “It collapses all of the context of and history of the Middle East into the binary of oppressor vs oppressed. So there is no patience or understanding of the long history and context of the region. The Jews are just the oppressors, and the Palenstinians oppressed.” That framework, he said, leaves no room for the idea that Hamas might actually be bad, or that Israeli hostages might need to be rescued, or that old man Biden might be actually trying his best. In my conversation with him, Auchincloss wasn’t afraid to call the tenor of the campus protests antisemitic.
The Democrat most caught in the left-wing buzzsaw right now is Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, a staunch progressive and disciple of Bernie Sanders who has nevertheless rejected calls for a ceasefire. Fetterman made his support for Israel clear during his 2022 campaign, when he was a darling of the left. But his position now, as the war unfolds, is positively galling to many of his young fans.
The GOP is a Failed State
On Monday’s podcast, Will Saletan and I discussed the GOP chaos; the anti-Israel left; and Hamas’s campaign of disinformation.
1. Senator Scott, Respectfully, Hit the Road
THE TRUTH IS THERE WAS NEVER a path for Scott. He entered the race without a lane and he hasn’t created one. What he had was plenty of money matched by plenty of people fond of him. And of course his candidacy has provided the cover that establishment Republicans in the Senate craved: Supporting him meant they didn’t have to choose between Trump or Ron DeSantis, back when the Florida governor was seen as capable of rescuing the GOP.
As DeSantis fizzled, and before Haley broke out, Scott had a moment. But his campaign likely ended at the first debate back in August when he disappeared and Haley bolted out of the gate. At the second debate, Scott’s attempt at a comeback was pitiful. When he politely launched his takedown of Haley, explaining the outrage of the offending curtains, Haley laughed, taunting him and saying “bring it, Tim,” as she blamed it on the Obama administration. Scott was left flailing his arms and spluttering “they’re your curtains.”
Scott genuinely seemed to expect that the base in Trump’s thrall was looking for something Trump doesn’t offer—and that up against a current governor in DeSantis and two former, experienced governors in Pence and Haley, there would be enough open minds to go around. Last week, he told the Ruthless Podcast he has learned during his campaign that voters “love character, they love optimism, they love people who want to make a difference in this country.”
Yes, a few of them do. Just not enough of them to make Scott the last man standing against Trump.
2. Trump’s Aura of Invincibility Has Been Pierced
Mike Madrid writes in today’s Bulwark that by rejecting Jim Jordan, House Republicans rejected Trump’s stated wishes and didn’t cave to high-pressure MAGA tactics.
JIM JORDAN’S DEFEAT IS THE FIRST REAL SIGN we’ve had of Donald Trump’s weakness. And it’s not clear that anyone realizes this fact.
Go back to 2016: As Trump steamrolled through the primaries, elected Republicans’ fear of retribution against those opposing him took on a mythical air. Somewhere along the path of vanquishing Low-Energy Jeb, Little Marco, and Lyin’ Ted, Trump’s inevitability as the future of Republicanism became invincibility against Republican resistance.
This aura helped him smash, demean, and humiliate all Republican opponents until they either bent the knee or left politics. Despite setbacks in the elections of 2018, 2020 and 2022, this discipline defined the GOP under Trump, elevating and preserving Trumpism as the new Republican establishment. Fealty to Trump replaced ideological orthodoxy as the glue of modern Republicanism.
But now, all of a sudden, that glue has stopped working.
The Bulwark in D.C.
Join The Bulwark for an evening of politics and insight with special guest Brian Stelter, former CNN media correspondent and author of Network of Lies: The Epic Saga of Fox News, Donald Trump, and the Battle for American Democracy.
On November 16, Charlie Sykes, Tim Miller, Sarah Longwell, and Jonathan V. Last will tackle the 2024 election, chaos on the Hill and other pressing events of the day.