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Splits Over Ukraine/Israel are Scrambling Our Politics
Plus: Adam Kinzinger, Renegade
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The parties split
How Ukraine/Israel is scrambling our politics:
1. The GOP
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) are headed for a showdown over emergency funding for Ukraine and funding the government beyond Thanksgiving, two tough issues that will test their ability to work together.
McConnell says he wants to keep military aid to Ukraine and Israel tied together because he views those conflicts as part of a larger global threat. He has repeatedly warned that picking a fight with Democrats that could result in a government shutdown is bad politics for the GOP.
Via Punchbowl: McConnell's Ukraine test
The next few weeks will test not only McConnell’s fraying relationship with his right flank but also his willingness to partner with President Joe Biden and Senate Democrats to muscle a huge Ukraine aid package through the chamber.
We can’t emphasize this enough — support for Ukraine among Republicans is eroding quickly. Senate Republicans tell us they believe the Nov. 17 government funding deadline could be their last chance to pass a significant aid package for the war-torn country.
“We’ve got three weeks to get this done,” one GOP senator said. “If we don’t, we’re telling Russia they can go have Ukraine.”
2. The Dems
The growing and personal Democratic split over the Israel-Hamas war is about to spill onto the House floor, with leaders bracing for fights on Israel-related legislation between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel members of Congress.
Why it matters: "Things could not possibly be any worse than they are right now," one House Democrat lamented….
The big picture: President Biden's initial response to the Israel-Hamas war sparked some of the harshest criticism he's received from progressives and people of color in his party — and those lawmakers think the party's base is on their side.
Members of the Squad, the high-profile group of House progressives, accused the White House of empowering Israel to retaliate in a way that has put the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza at risk.
Exit take: The 2024 election is going to be messy. But you knew that.
Adam Kinzinger: Renegade
The former congressman says that he feels some responsibility for the GOP’s descent into dysfunction— but he describes his decision to break with his party over Trump. On Tuesday’s podcast, Kinzinger joined me to discuss his raw and personal new book, “Renegade.”
You can listen to the whole thing here. Or watch us on YouTube.
Here’s a partial transcript of our discussion of the aftermath to January 6.
CJS: So you vote for him in 2020, but by January/February of 2021 you are voting to impeach him. And you're one of 10 Republicans in the House, along with Liz Cheney and others, who voted to impeach him. Did you think that vote was going to cost you your seat? Did you like wake up and you say, 'Okay, I'm going to strap this on me and I'm gonna blow myself up or not.' What did you think?
Adam Kinzinger: I guess I didn't fully know yet if it would cost my seat, because I was still optimistic enough to believe that a January 6 would take this guy down, right? I mean, there was a part of me that thought, you know, maybe I'm kind of leading this new Republican Party now, leading the charge against, what we used to be, but I also knew that this was not the safe thing to do. But I knew this was the thing that was worth it. And I think I've said with you before: The day before the impeachment vote, I thought we'd hit 25—you know people like Mike Gallagher, who were ...
AK: Yeah—Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin. Even Nancy Mace was going to be a 'Yes.' And then they started to express to me their concern about reelection. And that's when I knew I was excited to get 10 at that point.
So, I guess in a way I did know it would cost me, but I remember Fred Upton once telling me, shortly after that, that he thought Trump was going to run again, and I thought he was insane. I'm like, 'There's no way he's gonna. I mean, come on, you know, this guy did a January 6..
CJS: This is interesting, because every once in a while we encounter people on the other side of the aisle, who will say, 'Well, this was all inevitable—nothing surprising about this at all.' But, the reality is that for a lot of Republicans, they did think maybe they didn't have to vote for impeachment because surely this was it for Donald Trump. Right? So..
CJS: ... how surprising is it? I mean, you watched up close and personal. How surprising is it to have watched what has happened? We could go back to 2015, what's happened to the conservative movement and the Republican Party, but let's just focus on this: since January 7 2021—the decision that Kevin McCarthy made, the decision that Elise Stefanik made, the decision that one Republican after another has made—the fact that Mike Pence was dead on arrival, because the one courageous thing that he did became the unforgivable sin. Because, I think that even the Ron DeSantises of the world kind of looking around going, 'Are you kidding me? After January 6, after all of the indictments, the guy is still dominant in this party? He is still the apex predator?' I mean, how amazing is this?
AK: It is amazing. And I think look, it's amazing because I know these people.
Yeah. You know, let's take Mitch McConnell, who I think in his heart is a decent guy. I think he means well— he's a tactician— and I think he thought, 'Boy, the best thing I can do is not remove Donald Trump because he's gone anyway. I can preserve my majority'...
CJS: He's dead anyway.
AK: He's dead anyway.' You know, but he's the reason that Donald Trump didn't get removed, right? It's all these decisions that were made. The person that surprised me the most, Charlie, is still Kevin McCarthy.
Because, I mean, his big thing was he wanted to put the Republican Party on the map for climate change. He wanted the Republican Party to be the party of Silicon Valley.
Like he had all these progressive, politically—not actually progressive—but progressive politically ideas. And then he sold it all out for Trump. And the biggest surprise, of course, was when he showed up to Mar-a-Lago and resurrected him.
Yeah, like on the Ron DeSantis side, when he started running, I think he said, 'I'm gonna be Donald Trump, because Donald Trump's gonna be gone. But I can maintain that thing people love about him.'
AK: But he doesn't go away. And part of the reason, Charlie, is because the second-tier influencers—which is everybody that's on the stage running for president of the United States—is who people also look to for opinions. And when every one of them including Mike Pence, by the way, says that this is a 'Witch hunt against Donald Trump,' and the DOJ has a two-tiered system of justice—with the exception of Chris Christie saying that—there's no doubt people are going to believe it then. Because everybody else they trust is saying the same thing Trump is.
Our special guest will be Brian Stelter, who has a new scoop. “‘It Was Always Going to End Badly’: The Untold Story of Tucker Carlson’s Ugly Exit From Fox News.”
1. How Putin Enabled Pogroms
It took about twenty-four hours for Vladimir Putin to speak about the attempted pogrom. When he finally did, he blamed, in the least surprising twist ever, instigation by Ukraine and its “Western patrons,” specifically “the ruling elites of the USA” and other “geopolitical puppeteers.” But many observers argued that the true causes should be sought much closer to home. Dissident Russian commentators widely agreed that the Kremlin itself bore major responsibility, having cultivated hate, aggression and xenophobia with its war propaganda. As expatriate historian Tamara Eidelman put it, “If killing Ukrainians is permissible and even good, why not Jews?” Some also mentioned the recent avalanche of anti-Israel invective on Russian propaganda channels and the Putin regime’s overt flirtations with Hamas; senior figures from the terror group visited Moscow just last week and met with foreign ministry officials.
But there’s another factor: Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin ally whom one expert calls “the Chechen thug-dictator-extraordinaire.”
2. What It Takes for a Democrat to Be Competitive in the Deep Red South
When I asked him to explain where he fits in our politics, Presley described himself as fiercely independent, someone who doesn’t take orders from the “national Democratic Party, the national Republican Party, the Chamber of Commerce, or the Mississippi Economic Council.”
“I’m very far from a national Democrat. I’m a populist more than anything else. I don’t believe the fight in Mississippi is right versus left as much as it is the people on the outside versus the . . . few on the inside,” he said.
His ads feature the family Bible, his opposition to gender surgery for minors and “boys playing girls sports,” an express commitment to “pro-life” values, and even a “Let’s Go Brandon” chant. (Get it? Get it?)
When I asked him about leaning in on some of these cultural issues, he didn’t back down or seem uncomfortable as he rattled down the list.
“I think I’m very much in the mainstream of Mississippi political thought. I don’t support sex changes for minors, I don’t support boys playing girls’ sports,” he said. “I’m pro-life but I strongly believe in exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother.”
3. Republicans Are Rationalizing Cruelty Toward Gaza
I’m Jewish. I believe in Israel, and I’m aghast at what Hamas did to so many innocent people on October 7. I strongly support the use of force against the killers. But as thousands of innocent people die in Gaza—not as targets, but as victims of relentless bombardment in a war they didn’t choose—I can’t accept the bigotry, zealotry, and callousness these candidates are espousing. They aren’t standing up against ruthless religious violence. They’re promoting it.
Meanwhile, in the Ivy League….