The Dilemma of Brilliant Jerks
Plus, remember when Trump wanted to prosecute Pelosi for destruction of documents?
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CHRIS TRUAX: Remember When Trump World Wanted to Prosecute Nancy Pelosi for Destruction of Official Documents?
Donald Trump himself condemned Pelosi for her “illegal” actions.
“Well, I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it’s an official document. You’re not allowed—it’s illegal what she did.”
Of course, all of this outrage was misplaced because the copy of his speech that Trump handed to Pelosi was not an “official record.” As a legal matter, it was simply a piece of paper and her personal property.
And now, almost exactly two years to the day later, President Trump has been referred to the Department of Justice for—and I have tears in my eyes as I write this—ripping up official documents.
Now that the Republican base is following the gazpacho soup lady, consider this Bulwark prediction for your Super Bowl weekend: Secession will be the next big thing in the MAGA-verse. Tim Miller joins Charlie Sykes on the podcast.
Tom Nichols joins the panel to discuss whether it's time to end Covid restrictions, Ukraine and democracy, and "legitimate political discourse."
TNB: JVL, Mona Charen, Sarah Longwell, and Ben Parker discuss the RNC vs. Cheney and Kinzinger, why Republican governors don’t want to run for the Senate, whether there’s bipartisanship about Ukraine, and—maybe, just maybe—sports!
DAVID SHAYWITZ: The Dilemma of Brilliant Jerks.
We are left with a difficult, pragmatic question: Is it possible to selectively curtail the worst qualities of visionary leaders, while retaining all that is good?
Perhaps, with the appropriate refinements, we can create the space for a new category of equally effective—and ideally, even more effective—transformative leader to emerge; this is the dream and what I’d wish for myself, my colleagues, my family.
But it’s also possible that, in our eagerness to minimize offense, we will instead condemn ourselves to anodyne leaders incapable of profoundly challenging the status quo. Worse still, such organizational stasis might even pave the way for a disruptive, malignant narcissist eager to step into the breach.
WILLIAM SALETAN: Here’s How Republicans Have Been Justifying the Censure of Cheney and Kinzinger.
Not everything in the RNC’s censure resolution is a lie. It’s true, for instance, that Cheney and Kinzinger have engaged in behavior “inconsistent with the position” of the House GOP. It’s also true that their conduct in the Jan. 6th investigation is “not befitting Republican members of Congress.” That’s because the position of the House GOP is spineless obeisance to Trump, and the conduct of Republican members has been thoroughly corrupt. What unites today’s Republican party is a steadfast commitment not to any underlying principle, but to rationalizing a complete lack thereof.
REUBEN F. JOHNSON: The Right’s Argument Against Aiding Ukraine Is Wrong—and Dangerous.
People seem to have forgotten the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. It was an agreement signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia in which Ukraine agreed to transfer the nuclear weapons left on its territory after the collapse of the USSR back to Russia. In return, Moscow agreed to recognize the borders of these new nations in perpetuity and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against Ukraine.
In the present day, to quote a 2019 Brookings Institution assessment,
Russia has broken virtually all the commitments it undertook in that document. It used military force to seize, and then illegally annex, Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in early 2014. And Russian and Russian proxy forces have waged war for more than five years in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, claiming more than 13,000 lives and driving some 2 million people from their homes.
If this is how a nation that voluntarily turns over its nuclear weapons has its security guarantees upheld, then no one—looking at you, North Korea—will ever give up its nuclear arsenal. The Iranians will be given even more incentive to build one of their own. Pakistan and India will not stop increasing the size of their nuclear stockpiles. And nations such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Poland will be incentivized to develop their own nuclear capabilities.
That’s how big the stakes are in Ukraine.
Sports! I’ll just get it out early: Go Bengals. Looking for a good Cincinnati recipe that isn’t Skyline Chili (don’t hate), try this and thank me later. Or, get yourself a Slot Dog for some coneys.
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Father Stu… I don’t have to watch this movie (I will) to know that Mark Wahlberg is gonna win some awards for it. The movie is based on a true story about redemption (no, not Gibson’s) about a Montana priest.
Zillow is apparently really bad at flipping houses. They lost nearly $1 billion in 2021, when house prices were going through the roof.
A bipartisan bad idea… Virginia politicians want to bring Dan Snyder’s Washington Commanders to Virginia. And spend $1 billion to do it.
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Things are not looking good for J.D. Vance! All that debasement for 5%? I mean, he’s hosting events at IHOPs and not Ohio-based Bob Evans. He can’t even Ohio properly.
Why the Olympics suck. Reason’s Nick Gillespie explains.
Downfall. The case against Boeing.
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