Discover more from The Bulwark
Signs of GOP Trump Fatigue?
Three intriguing data points
Euphemism update: The weekend’s news cycle was dominated by the Texas House report that blamed what it called “systemic failure” in the response to the Uvalde school shooting. And it wasn’t wrong.
The report documented a cascade of blunders, misjudgments, and catastrophic dereliction of duty. “Nearly 400 local, state and federal law enforcement officers were at the scene that day, including 91 state troopers — none of whom moved to lead the response/…” Warnings went ignored, school doors were unlocked, communications failed, and heavily armed cops waited for more than an hour in the hallway while children and teachers died.
But systems don’t fail by themselves; they are made up of people — individuals who make decisions and who act or fail to act. So the term “systemic failure” feels like a euphemism here; an anodyne and bland way of describing a fiasco of cowardice, incompetence, stupidity, and buck-passing by specific individuals. Unless they are held accountable — we can by start by firing them — it seems pointless to even discuss “systemic” reforms.
BTW: The contrast between the Uvalde police response and this guy could hardly be more dramatic: “Bystander Killed Gunman 2 Minutes Into Indiana Mall Shooting.”
Exit take: Uvalde’s police FUBAR is a reminder of the difference between gun cosplay and actual heroism.
You’ll notice the question mark because Morning Shots knows that one swallow does not a summer make. But let’s look at three intriguing data points.
The first comes from our colleague Sarah Longwell:
She explains: “Again, I don’t think it’s that these voters are being persuaded by the hearings exactly. They think they’re a witch hunt, etc. But it’s a reminder to them of how much baggage Trump has. They want someone who can win in 2024 and are increasingly unsure he can.”
Meanwhile, in Florida…
For the second time in five days, a pollster from Florida with whom I’m unfamiliar sees DeSantis leading the former guy comfortably in their mutual home state. Last week Blueprint Polling had the race 51/39 there. Today Victory Insights has it 61/39 if “leaners” are included and 51/33 if they aren’t.
Trump getting blown out in a primary in a state he carried twice, where he easily defeated native son Marco Rubio in 2016, feels … newsy.
Some caveats: The polls may be outliers and we’re talking about DeSantis’s home state. But, Allahpundit speculates that this sort of thing might weigh on Trump’s ego.
Increasingly I wonder if polls like this one might influence Trump’s decision to run. The clearer it becomes from polling that DeSantis stands a real chance of winning, the more Republican fence sitters who might otherwise name Trump as their top choice on sheer “loyalty” grounds might feel comfortable switching. And the more plausible it is that Trump will lose to his apprentice, the less likely it is that he’ll get into the race to begin with. Why not retire as two-time undisputed champion of the party than risk being ignominiously knocked out by a leaner, hungrier fighter?
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has already helped block one of former President Donald Trump’s allies from winning the Republican nomination for governor in a crucial battleground state. Now he’s hoping for a repeat in his own backyard.
Ducey is part of a burgeoning effort among establishment Republicans to lift up little-known housing developer Karrin Taylor Robson against former television news anchor Kari Lake, who is backed by Trump. Other prominent Republicans, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have also lined up behind Robson in recent days.
On Monday, Robson’s campaign announced the endorsement of former Vice President Mike Pence, who will campaign with her on Friday — the same day Trump is scheduled to hold a rally for Lake, creating a split-screen moment underscoring the divide between the GOP establishment and Trump.
Aaron Blake writes in the Wapo: “Pence turns Arizona into biggest test of a post-Trump GOP yet.”
[Pence;s] endorsement instantly turns the race into the preeminent battle between Trump’s vision for the GOP and the nascent, establishment-oriented effort to turn the page on 2020 — and potentially on Trump.
Everyone would do well to circle their calendars for Aug. 2.
As Blake notes, “other, more competitive races have pitted certain establishment figures against Trump, almost none have featured this level of high-profile resistance.”
Trump’s candidate is now opposed by:
His own former vice president
The head of the Republican Governors Association, Ducey (though Ducey’s endorsement was made in his capacity as governor)
Former New Jersey governor and Trump adviser Chris Christie
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich
State Senate President Karen Fann, and
Former Arizona congressman Matt Salmon (who dropped out of the race and backed Taylor Robson)
Exit take: Because the Bulwark is big enough to contain a multitude of diverse opinions, Morning Shots congratulates Ducey for pushing back against the crazification of the Arizona GOP. Jim Swift has a different view.
BONUS: Speaking of proxy fights…
In Wisconsin, former Governor Scott Walker is firing shots at Trump’s endorsed candidate for governor, Tim Michels. Walker is backing his former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch in the August primary.
His tweets echo this ad that was released last week:
Exit question: Will Pence endorse in Wisconsin too?
January 6 Committee: The Gathering Storm
Via Bloomberg: “Jan. 6 Panel Extends Inquiry Because Information Keeps Coming.”
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, which had planned to finish its inquiry by September, will instead keep operating beyond that because more information keeps coming in, the panel’s chairman said Monday night.
The chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, also said that what had been anticipated to be a final report in September on the committee’s findings will now be a “scaled-back” interim report.
Via Politico: “‘Sprint Through The Finish’: Why The Jan. 6 Committee Isn't Nearly Done.”
The Jan. 6 select committee once envisioned a single month packed with hearings. Then a fire hose of evidence came its way — and now its members have no interest in shutting or even slowing the spigot.
As its summer hearings show some signs of chipping at Donald Trump’s electoral appeal, select panel members describe Thursday’s hearing as only the last in a series. Committee members, aides and allies are emboldened by the public reaction to the information they’re unearthing about the former president’s actions and say their full sprint will continue, even past November.
The only hard deadline, they say, is Jan. 3, 2023, when Republicans likely take over the House.
Via CNN: “Former Trump National Security Council Official Expected To Testify At Thursday's January 6 Hearing.”
Matthew Pottinger, who served on former President Donald Trump's National Security Council before resigning in the immediate aftermath of January 6, 2021, will testify publicly at Thursday's prime-time hearing held by the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack, according to multiple sources familiar with the plans.
Pottinger is slated to appear alongside former Trump White House aide Sarah Matthews. CNN previously reported that Matthews, who served as deputy press secretary in the Trump White House until resigning shortly after January 6, 2021, was expected to testify publicly.
A crisis of credibility
Even by the standards of our era of disillusion, these are brutal numbers:
Americans' confidence in two facets of the news media -- newspapers and television news -- has fallen to all-time low points. Just 16% of U.S. adults now say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers and 11% in television news. Both readings are down five percentage points since last year.
This seems like a good time for a flashback to a piece I wrote for the Niemann Center back in 2017:
Years before Donald Trump derided the media as “fake news,” Vice President Spiro Agnew famously labelled journalists “nattering nabobs of negativism.” But that was a very different era and the media need to understand that the challenges they now face are broader, deeper, more complicated as they become central players in the election campaign rather than simply observers.
All of this increases the pressure for the media to get it right.
This has always been important, but now that errors are weaponized by partisans to discredit the “fake” media, the pressure to avoid self-inflicted wounds has intensified. Even routine mistakes are seized upon to discredit the entire enterprise of journalism. This is the harsh reality check: No matter how good American journalism is, much of the electorate has been conditioned to reject it as “fake.” The last campaign saw an explosion of hoaxes, fabrications that often seemed to overwhelm legitimate news on social media.
This ought to be have been the canary in the coal mine for conservatives, but in a stunning demonstration of the power and resiliency of our new post-factual political culture, Trump and his allies in the right media quickly absorbed, disarmed, and turned the term “fake news” against its critics, draining it of any meaning. Now any news deemed to be biased, annoying, or negative can be labelled “fake news.”
Trump and his supporters now routinely conflate journalistic errors or lapses with intentional distortions; and many voters seem willing to accept the president’s chronic falsehoods or are indifferent to the deceptions.
The result is a toxic and challenging environment for journalists. They can answer the challenge with reporting that is aggressive, accurate, thorough, and fair. The next few years will be a referendum on whether they succeed.
The early returns are not promising.
Secession Fever: An Update
Red-state Donald Trump voters are now more likely to say they’d be personally “better off” (33%) than “worse off” (29%) if their state seceded from the U.S. and “became an independent country” . . .
And an even larger share of red-state Trump voters say their state as a whole would be better off (35%) rather than worse off (30%) if it left the U.S. . . .
And red-state Trump voters divide roughly down the middle on the question of whether things would be better (37%) or worse (40%) if the country as a whole actually split into a Blue Nation and a Red Nation. No other cohort views disunion so favorably.
Exit take. You’ve been warned. Again. This is from January 2021:
A clever plan to foil a 2024 coup attempt quietly advances
A serious threat to our democracy is this scenario: A state legislature appoints a slate of presidential electors in defiance of the state’s popular vote, and one chamber of Congress, controlled by the same party, counts those electors. Under current law, those electors would stand, potentially tipping a close election.
But now, these senators appear to be homing in on solutions to that problem. If they succeed, it would constitute a substantial accomplishment, thanks in part to the House Jan. 6 Committee’s focus on President Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow U.S. democracy.