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The Doom Loop of Crazy
Plus: Manchin's move and a warning to Democrats
People, I really need you to focus this morning. No, TFG did not wear his pants backwards over the weekend.
But we did get another alarming dose of the Doom Loop of Crazy.
Plus, progressives are incandescent with rage over Joe Manchin’s announcement that he would voted against H.R. 1 (but he’s right).
And Democrats got a stark warning from folks on their own side.
Let’s start with the Doom Loop:
Over the weekend, the NYT reported on the raging contagion of crazy in the final days of the Trump presidency.
WASHINGTON — In Donald J. Trump’s final weeks in office, Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, according to newly uncovered emails provided to Congress, portions of which were reviewed by The New York Times.
In five emails sent during the last week of December and early January, Mr. Meadows asked Jeffrey A. Rosen, then the acting attorney general, to examine debunked claims of election fraud in New Mexico and an array of baseless conspiracies that held that Mr. Trump had been the actual victor. That included a fantastical theory that people in Italy had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and switch votes for Mr. Trump to votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The insanity here cannot be overstated. But the intent is blindingly unsubtle.
Meanwhile during his otherwise low energy speech in North Carolina Saturday, Trump himself continued to call the election “the Crime of the Century,” even as some of his minions try to walk back the notion that he might be reinstated to the presidency this August.
But Trump’s embrace of the story shows how the right’s doom loop of craziness works — and how it is accelerating narratives that began in the fevered imaginations of his hardcore true believers.
It should also remind us that even though an idea is fake, the consequences of a new Big Lie can be very real, and even deadly.
Delegitimizing our democracy is now central to Trump’s agenda and his hopes for a political comeback. And polls suggest that his lies about the election have influenced tens of millions of voters.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll from May found that a quarter of Americans — and 53 percent of Republicans — actually believe Trump is the "true president" of the United States.
Manchin is a no.
Despite the hype, there should have been nothing surprising about Joe Manchin’s announcement that he would oppose the sprawling, bloated election bill known as H.R. 1. His position has been obvious for months.
And he’s not wrong. Here’s a flashback to what I wrote in March:
The bill is frequently described as being “sweeping,” but that hardly captures the scope of the legislation, which effectively federalizes election law, while rewriting the rules governing political speech.
In yesterday’s Bulwark, we ran a lengthy piece that broke down the key elements of the bill…. The authors wrote: “[H.R. 1] has taken on a partisan tinge, but it’s neither a progressive nor partisan bill—it’s a pro-democracy bill that should appeal to Americans of all political backgrounds.”
If only that were true. Unfortunately, the reality is that the bill is bloated, overstuffed, and of dubious constitutionality.
While it has valuable provisions — protecting mail-in voting, making it harder to purge voters, gerrymander reform — it has all the makings of legislation crafted by an overcaffeinated committee of progressive activists. It overturns hundreds of state laws and essentially strips states of their ability to regulate voting. Not content with that, it matches campaign contributions with tax dollars and dramatically seeks to rewrite campaign finance rulings by creating new restrictions on constitutionally protected free speech.
And all of that makes it less likely to address the urgent challenge to democracy in a meaningful way, because it is almost certainly dead on arrival on the senate. Not even abolishing the filibuster can save H.R. 1.
Again, this is tragic, because the threats to voting rights are radical and call for a radical response. But this isn’t it.
Weirdly enough the NYT editorial board seems to agree.
In the face of these threats, Democrats in Congress have crafted an election bill, H.R. 1, that is poorly matched to the moment. The legislation attempts to accomplish more than is currently feasible, while failing to address some of the clearest threats to democracy, especially the prospect that state officials will seek to overturn the will of voters.
Because there is little chance the bill will pass in its current form, Democrats face a clear choice. They can wage what might be a symbolic (and likely doomed) fight for all the changes they would like. Or they can confront the acute crisis at hand by crafting a more focused bill, perhaps more palatable for more senators, that aims squarely at ensuring that Americans can cast votes and that those votes are counted.
Exactly. Bonus take:
A warning to Democrats.
A review of the 2020 election, conducted by several prominent Democratic advocacy groups, has concluded that the party is at risk of losing ground with Black, Hispanic and Asian American voters unless it does a better job presenting an economic agenda and countering Republican efforts to spread misinformation and tie all Democratic candidates to the far left. …
Overall, the report warns, Democrats in 2020 lacked a core argument about the economy and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic — one that might have helped candidates repel Republican claims that they wanted to “keep the economy shut down,” or worse. The party “leaned too heavily on ‘anti-Trump’ rhetoric,” the report concludes.
“Win or lose, self-described progressive or moderate, Democrats consistently raised a lack of strong Democratic Party brand as a significant concern in 2020,” the report states. “In the absence of strong party branding, the opposition latched on to G.O.P. talking points, suggesting our candidates would ‘burn down your house and take away the police.’”
1. What Were They Thinking About Insurrection?
Court filings from the Department of Justice containing communications from Oath Keeper militants—some of whom are said to have acted as personal security for Roger Stone at “Stop the Steal” rallies, including on the eve of the January 6 insurrection—show how clear Rhodes’s thinking was about it.
According to prosecutors, Rhodes held a planning meeting for the attack on November 9, 2020. During it, he said:
“We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don’t guys, you’re going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody—you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”
He told his followers they needed to be prepared to fight Antifa, which he characterized as a group of individuals with whom “if the fight comes, let the fight come. Let Antifa—if they go kinetic on us, then we’ll go kinetic back on them. I’m willing to sacrifice myself for that. Let the fight start there. That will give President Trump what he needs, frankly. If things go kinetic, good. If they throw bombs at us and shoot us, great, because that brings the president his reason and rationale for dropping the Insurrection Act.”
He continued, “I do want some Oath Keepers to stay on the outside, and to stay fully armed and prepared to go in armed, if they have to. . . . So our posture’s gonna be that we’re posted outside of D.C., um, awaiting the president’s orders. . . . We hope he will give us the orders. We want him to declare an insurrection, and to call us up as the militia” (emphasis added).
2. Biden Quietly Moves Back to the Middle
Josh Kraushaar writes in National Journal: “In a nod to political reality, the president is paring back his spending plans, negotiating with Republicans, and acknowledging conservative arguments.”
President Biden all but declared that the era of big government was back in his address to Congress in April. But, facing the realities of narrow Democratic majorities in Congress and an uneven economic recovery, he’s starting to slowly walk back efforts to pass an ambitious agenda on a party-line basis in favor of scaling back spending, curtailing his legislative ambitions, and even courting Republican support.
3. Once a Bastion of Free Speech, the A.C.L.U. Faces an Identity Crisis
“I got the sense it was more important for A.C.L.U. staff to identify with clients and progressive causes than to stand on principle,” he said in a recent interview. “Liberals are leaving the First Amendment behind.”
The A.C.L.U., America’s high temple of free speech and civil liberties, has emerged as a muscular and richly funded progressive powerhouse in recent years, taking on the Trump administration in more than 400 lawsuits. But the organization finds itself riven with internal tensions over whether it has stepped away from a founding principle — unwavering devotion to the First Amendment.
Tim watched Saturday night, so you didn’t have to.