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Ketchup on the wall at Mar-a-Lago
How about some hot takes to start off your week:
Last Tuesday destroyed Kevin McCarthy’s future. No matter what the final House margin turns out to be, McCarthy is cooked. If the GOP wins a narrow dysfunctional majority (which looks likely), he’ll either be ousted or gelded by the NutCase Caucus.
Donald Trump is (once again) destroying the GOP bench. After Tuesday’s elections, the Democrats now find themselves with quite a robust bench: not just Mayor Pete, but now also Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, Maryland’s Wes Moore, Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro, and Colorado’s Jared Polis. Meanwhile, Trump is savaging his own party’s bench. He’s doing it in two ways: (1) by threatening to destroy any potential rivals (Ron DeSantis, Glenn Youngkin) while (2) forcing others to embrace electorally fatal denialism and extremism as the price of his favor.
The GOP’s Red Wedding is just about to get underway.
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The MAGA Crackup
So many mysteries for the GOP to unravel. Starting, perhaps with this one:
Believe it or not, blaming the single ladies for the GOP’s electoral failures is a hot take on the right. Make sure you read Cathy Young’s piece in today’s Bulwark on the spinster bashing.
But it’s also worth mentioning that the tweet calling unmarried women “lost, miserable, addicted to SSRIs and alcohol, etc. etc.” was written by one Joel Berry, who is the managing editor of the Babylon Bee, which was supposed to be an example of how the right was finally getting good at… humor. Or not.
Let us count some of the ways that MAGAverse is cracking up this weekend, while keeping in mind that the worst is surely just ahead.
Of course, the worst sign of a MAGA meltdown would be the defeat of Kari Lake — the Queen of MAGA, the Empress of Trollistan —in Arizona. But she would be far from alone. Last week, Trump-backed election deniers were rejected in every single battleground state.
Election administrators and voting rights advocates said the rebuke of election deniers seeking state-level office was a refreshing course correction by U.S. voters, whose choice of more seasoned and less extreme candidates reflected a desire for stability and a belief that the nation’s elections are in fact largely secure.
“This was a vote for normalcy,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who prevailed against a Democratic opponent Tuesday after defeating U.S. Rep. Jody Hice in the spring primary. Hice, who was endorsed by Trump, spent the campaign attacking Raffensperger for refusing to block Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia.
This does not mean the end —or even the beginning of the end — of election lies, however, because the Lie is at the very center of Trumpism and the vendetta campaign that kicks off this week.
But last week’s election made it clear that denialism is not the winning issue that the brooding exile in Mar-a-Lago imagines.
Speaking of Lake: She was hoping to be one of Trump’s most loyal anti-DeSantis surrogates.
I think it’s hard to overstate just how much DJT will hate the contrast between DeSantis (HUGE WINNER) and Lake (HUGE LOSER) on the eve of his own presidential restoration announcement.
While we’re on the subject of MAGA meltdowns, please take a moment to ponder one incident in this weekend’s ketchup-on-the-wall tantrum at Mar-a-Lago. Taking a break from attacking DeSantis, Trump also found time to lash out at Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has apparently been insufficiently deferential.
"Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) Trump wrote, before going on to take credit for his election in Virginia.
Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?
Who writes shit like that? Seriously. What grown man would say something that juvenile and inane? Who thinks that’s funny, or clever?
Ladies and gentleman, I give you the 45th president of the United States.
On CNN yesterday, Dana Bash asked outgoing Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan (whose wife is Korean American) about Trump's jibe that "Young Kin ... sounds Chinese."
"It's Asian hate," "making fun of Asians," Hogan said.
Bash: "Is it racist?"
Hogan: "It is racist
Because it was.
Until last week, Republicans laughed off this sort of thing because they had convinced themselves that nothing mattered. There would no consequences for making a punchline of the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband, for election denialism, batshittery, or Trump’s chronic flirtation with anti-Semitism and racism.
I had some thoughts about this yesterday:
A vote for normalcy
Via Axios: This election was a rejection of extremism.
Most extreme Republican nominees badly underperformed, costing the GOP very winnable races and control of the Senate.
In the Senate, Trump-endorsed Blake Masters in Arizona and Adam Laxalt in Nevada were the final two GOP candidates to fall as Democrats held onto their majority.
In the 36 House races that the Cook Political Report rated as toss-ups, former President Trump endorsed just five Republicans. Each one lost.
Kari Lake, the election-denying, McCain-bashing candidate for Arizona governor, is trailing Democrat Katie Hobbs.
Why it matters: This time around, extremism didn't pay. Most voters are tired of radical, intemperate rhetoric on all sides.
It would have been nice if (1) this had come earlier, (2) he had said it under oath to the January 6 Committee.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said in an exclusive interview with ABC's "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir that former President Donald Trump's rhetoric was "reckless" as a mob of his supporters ransacked the Capitol last year -- with Pence and others temporarily forced into hiding.
"I mean, the president's words were reckless. It was clear he decided to be part of the problem," Pence told Muir.
But the GOP may be stuck with Trump anyway…
The GOP may think they are done with Trump. But, as I tried to explain last week, he is very definitely not done with them.
After playing a montage of conservatives blaming Trump for the election fiasco, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle asked Sykes if the party is really done with Trump during Thursday’s 11th Hour.
“Charlie, are you buying this?” Ruhle asked. “Are Republicans finally leaving him?”
“The Republicans bought the ticket and they’re gonna take this ride again with Donald Trump,” he answered. “He’s signaling by his meltdown over down in Mar-a-Lago over the last 12 hours is that he’s prepared to burn it all down. They may be done with him, but he is not done with them.”
“What does that mean?” Ruhle asked.
“It basically means, ‘I’m not going quietly. I’m going to announce next week,'” Sykes responded, mimicking a hypothetical Trump response while alluding to his “very big announcement” on Monday. “‘I don’t care who I hurt. If you do not nominate me, I will burn the house down. I will destroy and attack any other Republican that comes against me.'”
Ruhle retorted that conservative media outlets and the Republican donor class appears to be turning against Trump.
“But Charlie, they are turning on him,” she said. “Conservative media is turning on him. The donor class is welcoming Ron DeSantis in. It’s happening. So where exactly does the big fear of Donald Trump lie? He’s a senior citizen living in his private home in Florida and New Jersey. He’s unemployed. Who’s he going to hurt?”
“Yes, well I have the scars to answer your question here because what he’s done is he’s got 30 to 40% of the Republican base that will go with him,” Sykes replied. “And so let’s say in some fantasy world that Ron DeSantis beats Donald Trump, that he actually has the guts to go up against Donald Trump and face down these threats of destruction. And he beats him, let’s say 60-40. What is going to happen to that 40%? Does Donald Trump ever go away?”
Sykes cited past instances where some believed Republicans would distance themselves from Trump, but did not:
Look, this is a party that stuck with him through Charlottesville that stuck with him for that shambolic four years, that did not walk away when he was defeated, that didn’t walk away after he orchestrated an insurrection at the Capitol.
And now because he has led them to this underperformance in the midterms, they’re going to do something that they’ve been incapable of doing for the last six years? Donald Trump looks at the Republican establishment and says, “These are weak people. I have crushed them in the past. They will cave in to me. They have done it in the past and they will do it again.”
That is what he’s calculating.
1. Ukraine Could Eventually Retake Crimea. How Would Crimeans Respond?
The scenes of residents of Kherson rushing to greet and cheer their liberators will almost certainly be repeated when Melitopol and Mariupol fall. Mariupol was the scene of some of the toughest fighting of the first Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Government forces were forced to evacuate the city in March before reclaiming it in June. Eight years later, when Russia re-invaded Ukraine, Mariupol was the site of the famous siege of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works, where Ukrainian forces held out against overwhelming Russian bombardment for almost three months before Zelensky ordered them to stop resisting.
But what about Crimea? Unlike Kherson and Mariupol, the peninsula has been under Moscow’s control for years, not months. What kind of reception would Ukrainian forces find there?
2. And ICYMI:
Conservatism Inc. Is Breaking Up With Trump. Again. By Ansley Skipper
The Empire Strikes Back. By JVL
Was It Really All Just Trump’s Fault? By Christian Vanderbrouk
From Red Wave to Red Trickle. By Tim Miller
The end of a beautiful romance.