The GOP Goes Soft on Terror
Plus: Trump’s about to go down in Georgia.
Let’s start by putting this national disgrace in context.
Three-quarters of Black Americans are worried that they or someone they love will be attacked because of their race, according to a nationwide Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted after a gunman killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket, allegedly targeting members of the mostly Black neighborhood.
The Post-Ipsos poll of Black Americans finds most are saddened and angered by the attacks, but just 8 percent say they are “surprised.” Even before the shooting, in earlier poll questioning, Black people saw racism as one of their greatest threats. After the attack, only 10 percent think the problem of racism will improve in their lifetimes, while a 53 percent majority think it will get worse.
And the response? The new CBS/YouGov poll finds that 48 percent of Republican voters say that it is “not very/not at all” important for political leaders to condemn white nationalism and white supremacy.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the Buffalo massacre by a white nationalist terrorist the Senate GOP is vowing to kill a modest domestic anti-terrorism bill.
I wrote about the GOP’s flip-flop on terrorism in my latest column over at MSNBC:
[The] response from the GOP is a reflection of just how rapidly the political ground has shifted. A previous version of the same bill was passed by the House in an unanimous voice vote in September 2020. This time, though, House GOP leaders shrugged off the urgency of the threat and told members to vote "no.”
Republican leaders went so far as to conflate the Buffalo killings with other episodes of the culture wars. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., complained that the Justice Department had “targeted and labeled rightfully concerned parents as domestic terrorists for speaking out at school board meetings.” (The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has awarded that claim Four Pinocchios.)
After years of insisting that Obama and Democrats had to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” few if any GOP leaders now even acknowledge the problem of “white supremacist terrorism” or “antisemitic extremism.”
The party of law and order has gone noticeably soft on terrorism — or at least this kind of terrorism.
This selective outrage did not go unnoticed, even among some Trump supporters. The Ohio pastor Darrell Scott, who was one of Trump’s earliest evangelical Christian supporters in 2016, was appalled enough by the GOP’s muted sympathy for the victims of the Buffalo shooting to tweet about it. The leaders of the right “expressed more sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse,” he argued.The lack of expressions of sympathy for 10 dead AMERICAN victims of a mass shooting by the“Leaders” of the Right is bad. They expressed more sympathy for Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed 3 people, and Nicolas Sandmann, who got stared at, than for the 10 dead innocents in Buffalo.
In the Senate, Republicans are pledging to kill even the modest anti-terror measure. The party that once lined up behind a targeted ban on millions now takes umbrage at the notion of even monitoring the activities of American extremists and writing reports about them. “It sounds terrible,” said Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, likening the bill to “the Patriot Act for American citizens.” (Republicans had, of course, also overwhelmingly supported the original Patriot Act, which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.)
But the real tell was the defensive reaction from Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. “The Democrats can’t even wait an hour before they blame the Republicans for the Buffalo shooting. I think it’s despicable,” Johnson complained.
Johnson protests too much.
His reaction suggests a guilty conscience. Taking an aggressive position on white nationalist violence might ensnare some of Johnson’s allies — or maybe even hold the right accountable for its own extremist rhetoric.
This flip-flop should have political consequences.
The Trumpified GOP may brush off allegations of racism, but its new squishiness on terrorism undermines a key pillar of its electoral strength, and — unless the Democrats are politically brain-dead — its about-face should be a potent wedge issue this year.
What to look for on primary day
Tim Miller has a great summary of the “7 Things to Watch for on Primary Night,” in today’s Bulwark.
Republican voters in Georgia and Alabama seem poised to rebuke Trump’s chosen candidates and they might even back one of the most potent thorns in his side during his coup attempt…
The granddaddy of them all is the governor’s race where Brian Kemp is expected to absolutely trounce David Perdue, the disgraced former senator and pillow manufacturing executive, who decided to end his campaign on the alt-right low road, accusing Stacey Abrams of “demeaning her own race” and saying she should “go back where she came from.”
This primary is Exhibit A for those who argue that Trump’s tiny-fingered grip on the party is loosening, since he endorsed Perdue and remains angry at Kemp over certifying the 2020 election. Amanda Carpenter covered this in depth yesterday if you want the full sermon.
Also don’t miss Amanda Carpenter’s coverage of Perdue’s last-minute self-humiliation: “Perdue Slumming With Bannon for Votes on Election Eve.”
Her piece includes this revealing tidbit:
Trump’s appearance at Perdue’s tele-rally tonight lasted just seven minutes. The ex-president, whose usual rhetorical style could best be described as longwinded divagation and bombastic verbigeration, didn’t bother to muster more than ten minutes for Perdue.
I also had some thoughts:
But after three weeks of early voting ahead of Tuesday’s primary, record-breaking turnout is undercutting predictions that the Georgia Election Integrity Act of 2021 would lead to a falloff in voting. By the end of Friday, the final day of early in-person voting, nearly 800,000 Georgians had cast ballots — more than three times the number in 2018, and higher even than in 2020, a presidential year…
Defenders of the law accused Democrats, including President Biden and Stacey Abrams, the presumed Democratic nominee for Georgia governor this year, of hyping accusations of voter suppression because it resonated with their base and helped them raise money. They say the turnout numbers prove that the rhetoric around the law was false.
“Abrams and President Biden lied to the people of Georgia and the country for political gain,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said. “From day one, I said that Georgia’s election law balanced security and access, and the facts have proved me right.”…
What explains the cognitive dissonance?
But much of the rhetoric directed at the bill was actually based on draft legislation that was subsequently scaled back. Local and national organizations, including the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, had put enormous pressure on state Republicans to strip out some of the more contentious provisions. Republicans agreed to drop, for instance, language barring most Georgians from voting by mail and curtailing early voting on weekends. They even expanded early-voting hours in the final bill.
Here come the MAGA Firsters
Republican lawmakers — following former President Trump's lead — are working with a wide range of conservative groups to pull back American support for Ukraine, the Middle East and Europe, officials tell us.
Why it matters: With the GOP poised to retake control of the House and perhaps the Senate next year, this contingent could grow substantially. Trump is backing candidates who's explicitly broken with Republican foreign policy orthodoxy.
1. Even the Gun Industry Knew We Would End Up Here
When mass access to guns merges with political fetishization, writes Ryan Busse, nothing good can happen.
Once, gun companies were careful to avoid incitement with gun monikers, but now there are trademarked names such as the Urban Super Sniper and AR15 campaigns that promise the owner will “get their man card back.”
When gun sales sag, as they did during the middle of the Trump presidency, one can find hopeful ad campaigns selling guns for a future of armed conflict with left-wing agitators. Industry leaders fawn over Tucker Carlson, especially when he extends his manufactured replacement theories to the AR15. Where there was once a strict avoidance of incendiary politics, now anyone can buy truckloads of “Let’s Go Brandon” or “Lock her up” high-capacity AR15 magazines while Donald Trump Jr. cheers them on. And for the truly adventurous, there are even the Q-AR15s, alluding to the conspiracy theory QAnon and favored by Marjorie Taylor Greene.
2. Putin Is Failing in Ukraine, But Winning Next Door
Particularly since the crisis in Ukraine, Georgia’s governance has increasingly resembled the Russian model, complete with one-party rule and persecution of the opposition. The United States and its European allies need to exercise their influence with Georgia to help rein in these destructive forces. We owe it to the many Georgians who hope to join the EU and NATO to impose travel bans and other sanctions on those who are undermining hope for a future with the West.