Discover more from The Bulwark
The Dithering of the “Maybe Trump” Republicans
The normie kabuki dance.
There’s a Chinese spy balloon over Montana; a new poll shows confidence in police is falling after the murder of Tyre Nichols; the U.S. economy delivers huge new jobs numbers; and Republicans continue to rally around conservatives who lost their elections.
(Composite / GettyImages / Shutterstock)
But before we dive into the weekend, let’s start with Thursday’s Normie Kabuki Theater.
This really shouldn’t be a difficult question. But it speaks depressing volumes that even at this late date — with (waves hands in the air) everything we know — even anti-Trump Republicans are having a hard time saying that Never Again Trump, actually means never.
Both New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan have been harsh critics of Donald Trump, and both have toyed with the idea of running for president themselves.
Sununu has gone so far as to describe TFG as “Effin Crazy.”
But on Thursday, when they were asked the inevitable, obvious question—Would they support Trump if he were the GOP nominee?—massive shambolism ensued.
During an appearance on CNN, Sununu said he’ll support the Republican nominee no matter who it is, and insisted that whole “effing crazy” thing was a just a funny, funny joke. (LOL)
Because it was Groundhog Day, Larry Hogan also seemed to say that he’d also back Trump if he was the party’s nominee. “Yeah, I just don’t think [Trump will] be the nominee, but I’ll support the nominee,” Hogan told Hugh Hewitt.
BTW: As all of this was happening, Trump himself was refusing to commit to supporting the GOP nominee if it wasn’t him because, well, he’s Trump.
“It would depend,” Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in a radio interview Thursday, later adding, “It would have to depend on who the nominee was.”
Trump’s unwillingness to deliver a full-throated endorsement of the eventual nominee stood in contrast to other leading Republicans — including some critics of the former president — who have promised to support the GOP nominee even if it’s Trump.
And, as the normies dithered, Trump continued to put out demented statements glorifying January 6th rioters and sliming the Capitol Police. (He was responding to one of Kevin McCarthy’s rare disagreements with MTG.)
As the day wore on, Hogan semi-sort-of walked back his statement, with a “To be clear” tweet that still seems a bit muddled.
Sununu, on the other hand, seemed to double down. My colleague, Sarah Longwell had some thoughts:
For a deeper dive, make sure you listen to Sarah, JVL, and Tim react in real time to this oh-so-familiar dance of the prevaricators:
Who’s up for some bracing reality checks?
Honig’s book isn’t about Trump per se, but he writes that Trump is the perfect illustration of how powerful people use mob-like tactics to frustrate law enforcement.
I wish I could tell you that Honig is optimistic that the justice system will finally catch up with Trump, but he saves some of his more biting criticism for AG Merrick Garland, who, he says, has acted with “paralyzing reticence” and has “behaved more like a tepid bureaucrat than a determined prosecutor.”
You can listen to our whole conversation here.
1. Kevin McCarthy’s Double Standard in Sidelining Adam Schiff
How has Turner, an Ohioan now in his eleventh term in the House, begun his chairmanship? By making unsubstantiated allegations against President Joe Biden. If McCarthy were serious about his stated reasons for removing Schiff—that it’s about principle, not party—he would now remove Turner as well. But of course, he won’t.
2. Strong Signals of Support for Liberal Democracy Abroad from Newly Elected Czech President
Pavel’s resounding victory is hugely significant for the West, even though Czech presidents don’t wield executive power. A former head of the NATO Military Committee and Czech Army chief, Pavel represents a school of thought that believes the only way to uphold liberal democracy at home is to bullishly support those fighting for it abroad.
Pavel has wasted no time in showing what this means in practice. His first calls as president-elect included talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. European leaders and heads of state usually shy away from direct contact with the latter, for fear of stoking Beijing’s anger, but Pavel went one step further, expressing a wish to “meet President Tsai in person in the future.”
3. Can This Black, Latina, Progressive, Pro-Police DA Turn San Francisco Around?
From Tim’s piece:
When I asked her what she would do if I gave her a magic wand that grants one wish that would help make her job easier and disrupt a broken system, the answer caught even me off guard.
“Right now, honestly, we need more police,” she said. (On tape, I can be heard involuntarily blurting “wow” at this statement, which is so bracingly anathema to online left-wing pieties).
She continues, almost apologetic about the stark reality of the city today and what she thinks it would take to start fixing it:
I hate to even say that; I don’t want to see us become a police state. I’ve never been somebody who, you know, as a young person would’ve ever thought I would be saying something like that. . . . But the only way that we can effectively tackle this problem is if we have police stationed where they need to be to make arrests. . . . For drug dealing it takes sometimes four, five, six [cops] to do a single operation, and we’re understaffed by six hundred officers. . . . [Police] presence often serves as a deterrent, right? . . . Unfortunately, we’re at a point now where it seems that that’s the type of deterrence we need. And honestly, when I’m around the city, it’s the type of deterrence that most people are asking for.
She’s right about that. A June 2021 poll showed that even in the supposedly looney-left haven of San Francisco, 3 in 4 residents support more police in high-crime areas and 60 percent thought funding the police academy to get more cops should be a “high priority” for the city
Lordy, there are tapes…