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MAGA vs. MOAR MAGA
Plus: Some personal news
Well, this should be interesting:
As you know, Paul and I have been taking a break from one another and seeing other people. But, we’re going to be sitting down here in Milwaukee next month to talk about what’s happened, and where we are going.
If you’re in the area (or interested in coming to the Midwest in February), you can get tickets here.
And, if you have any ideas what I should ask the former speaker, let me know in the comments section.
Knives out at the RNC
Inflation is down, the U.S. has killed another ISIS leader, Memphis braces for the release of a police video, and an asteroid narrowly missed the earth.
For the political nerd community, today’s main event will be the election of the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The race was already nasty, but got a last minute twist yesterday when Florida’s Ron DeSantis said it was time for “new blood” at the RNC and praised Harmeet Dhillon, who is seeking to oust incumbent Ronna
Donald Trump has not formally made an endorsement, but is thought to favor McDaniel, who has carried his water and paid his legal bills for years now. She’s still the favorite, but these days who the hell really knows?
Here is the choice the 168 members of the RNC face today: Trump loyalist McDaniel vs. Trump/Kari Lake lawyer Dhillon vs. The My Pillow Guy.
In other words, the choice boils down to
Batshit Crazy MAGA
Not on offer is anyone suggesting that the GOP rethink its current trajectory. There’s no non-Trumpist alternative, and no interest in anything like an autopsy to explain why the party keeps losing the popular vote for president, or why it is hemorrhaging support in the suburbs, and among women and young voters.
So today we have a high-profile race, with a dollop of last-minute drama, that actually has the lowest possible stakes.
But there are also mixed signals.
On the surface, the MAGA domination of the RNC suggests that Trump retains his spectral grip on the Republican party.
But consider this paradox: “An R.N.C. Remade by Trump Backs Away From His 2024 Campaign.”
The New York Times called, emailed or texted all 168 R.N.C. members. Just four offered an unabashed endorsement of Mr. Trump’s 2024 campaign. Twenty said the former president should not be the party’s nominee. An additional 35 said they would like to see a big primary field or declined to state their position on Mr. Trump. The remainder did not respond to messages.
In interviews, some R.N.C. members estimated that between 120 and 140 of them preferred someone besides Mr. Trump to be their party’s presidential nominee.
And there’s this from our former colleague John McCormack: “DeSantis Builds Lead over Trump in Latest New Hampshire Poll.”
With twelve months to go until New Hampshire’s 2024 Republican presidential primary, Florida governor Ron DeSantis leads Donald Trump by twelve points — 42 percent to 30 percent — in a new Granite State poll.
The survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center from January 19 to 23 and released on Thursday, is the first independent poll of the first-in-the-nation 2024 GOP primary conducted since the 2022 midterm elections….
The new poll shows DeSantis’s vote share improving by three points since the University of New Hampshire last conducted a survey in the summer of 2022, while Trump’s vote share dropped seven points from 37 percent to 30 percent. Trump’s vote share has declined in each of the four polls conducted by the pollster since June of 2021.
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump doesn’t always get his calls to Iowa returned these days…
Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Kim Reynolds didn’t answer when he telephoned recently, and neither of them are willing to give their party’s former leader their nod this early, according to people familiar with the matter. Nor are Joni Ernst or other top state elected officials.
Trump, 76, is the only Republican to declare his candidacy for 2024 so far — a move he hoped would clear the field of serious opponents and lead to the entire GOP falling in line behind him, despite his 2020 defeat, his instigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol and his deep unpopularity among most Americans. But instead, he’s finding that some leaders in Iowa are staying neutral and open for alternatives, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Exit take: Choose your own adventure.
Republicans in Disarray Update
You might want to watch this space:
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) said she will not support Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (Calif.) effort to deny Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, making matters more difficult for the GOP leader as he looks to follow through on his pledge to not seat the congresswoman on the panel.
Spartz also said she opposes McCarthy’s vow to block Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee.
“Two wrongs do not make a right. Speaker Pelosi took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without proper due process. Speaker McCarthy is taking unprecedented actions this Congress to deny some committee assignments to the Minority without proper due process again”, Rep. Spartz said. “As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again. Speaker McCarthy needs to stop “bread and circuses” in Congress and start governing for a change.
How serious is Spartz? Well, she gave a speech on the floor, and tweeted it out:
Kevin McCarthy’s approval rating? 19%.
1. How Marjorie Taylor Greene Became Kevin McCarthy’s Best Friend
Not that long ago, the new speaker’s bosom buddy was ranting online about crazy, offensive conspiracy theories. Tim Miller’s latest Not My Party:
2. Biden Critics Lie Themselves into Knots Defending Pence
Will Saletan highlights the hypocrisy and distortion in Republicans’ attempts to find critical differences between the two classified documents cases.
Do the Justice Department, the FBI, the National Archives, and the media apply a partisan double standard to politicians who wrongly retain classified documents? That’s what Republicans have alleged since Jan. 9, when CBS News reported that President Joe Biden, like former President Donald Trump, had stored records with classified markings in an unsecured location.
The two cases were significantly different: Trump had kept many more documents than Biden had, and Trump had long resisted the government’s efforts to recover some of his documents. But Republicans insisted that the government was treating Trump more harshly than Biden—in particular, by searching the former president’s estate to recover documents he had withheld—because Trump was a Republican, not because he was a scofflaw.
On Tuesday, that allegation of partisan bias fell apart. Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, disclosed that he, too, had found classified documents at his home. Like Biden—and unlike Trump—Pence had promptly offered to hand over all relevant records to the government. And the government, in response, had allowed Pence, like Biden, to relinquish the documents on his own terms, without a court-ordered search.
3. What Mike Pompeo Leaves Out
Is it campaign strategy or genuine conviction that leads Pompeo to position himself as a fierce culture warrior against an “establishment [that] too often loathes the citizens it purports to represent and seeks to destroy our nation’s Judeo-Christian founding”? In this and similar lines, the book’s authorial persona, which awkwardly mixes piety and belligerence, comes to the fore.
In addition to immoderately salting his prose with references to the “good Lord” and to “His grace,” Pompeo uses a great deal of crude rhetoric in his book. While praising the Saudi intelligence operatives to the skies, we find Hillary Clinton aide Susan Rice described as Clinton’s “henchwoman.” Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran may have been dangerously misguided (as I believe it was), but was it “staggeringly stupid”? The Foreign Service Officer Corps may be liberal in its orientation, but is it really “overwhelmingly hard left in its cultural sympathies”? Pompeo makes it sound as if his State Department underlings were members of Antifa.
Like his former boss, Pompeo evidently lacks a subtlety gene.
4. Republican Lawmakers Might Not Be Able to Handle the Truth, But Kids Can
Really, make time to read this remarkable essay: In today’s Bulwark, author Margaret McMullan writes that we owe our children more than book bans and new restrictions on the teaching of our history.
I recall one moment at Central High School when I paused on the iconic photograph of the sit-in at the Woolworth lunch counter in Jackson. I read the passage I wrote in Sources of Light, focusing on that scene where Samantha watches all the white men and boys in the room taunting, cheering, punching, and pouring ketchup, mustard, and sugar on the protesters sitting at the counter.
I asked students to look closely at the photo and choose one person in the group to write from that person’s point of view about what’s happening. The idea was for them to use their imagination to experience or at least consider a different point of view, hopefully helping them to think critically and empathize.
The results were surprising. African-American girls wrote from the point of the view of the white man pouring ketchup on a black man’s head. White girls wrote about the black man sitting at the counter, while one white boy wrote from the point of view of Anne Moody, the black woman at the counter staring at a glass of water. I asked them questions: How does it feel to be that person in this scene? What in your life led you to be there in that moment?
…Donald Trump, who, despite being the only candidate who has officially announced his bid, is . . . well, ranting like a deranged hobo in a dilapidated public park. No, don’t look at him — he might come over here with his sign.