Discover more from The Bulwark
What Happens After Khamenei Dies?
Plus, why Conservatives Are the New Useful Idiots.
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: All The GOP’s Faustian Bargains
JVL: Always Trust The General! 🔐
TNL: Can We Have Nice Things? 🔐
SECRET POD: Anti-anti-Putin Republicans 🔐
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
SHAY KHATIRI: What Happens After Khamenei Dies?
On Farsi social media, the rumors are swirling: Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran since 1989, is on his deathbed. Or he has already died. Or maybe he has been dead for years, and the man passed off in public as Khamenei is actually a body double named Mir-Taher. (In which case, is it the body double who is dying now?)
Last week, Iran’s Assembly of Experts, a council that in theory (but not in reality) oversees the leader and chooses his successor, held its biennial conference. But the usual meeting between the assembly and Khamenei was canceled, and a private meeting was held on Thursday instead; no information about the proceedings has been made available. Conflicting justifications for these actions have been offered. One assemblyman said the assembly didn’t want to cause “discomfort” for the supreme leader, while a regime newspaper claimed no meeting had been canceled because no meeting had been scheduled to begin with. The rumors continue: Over the weekend, the assembly was recalled to Tehran for an emergency conference, some claim. There are also reports that Khamenei’s plane from Mashhad performed an emergency landing before reaching Tehran, and he had to be transported to the capital in an ambulance.
Ukraine’s advances are due to Western weapons, and also American training during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But Ukraine can also credit the Russian Army, which has been debased and corrupted by senior officers and political leaders. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling (Ret.) joins Charlie Sykes today.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of these podcasts on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
TNL 🎥 Can We Have Nice Things? 🔐
Supporters of same-sex marriage are struggling to find 10 Republican senators who will help their cause. In July, 47 House Republicans—22 percent of the House Republican conference—voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would prohibit legal discrimination among marriages on the basis of sex. In the Senate, supporters need 10 Republicans—20 percent of the Senate Republican Conference—to reach the 60-vote threshold to cut off a filibuster and pass the bill.
Getting those 10 votes may be difficult, because today’s Republican senators grew up in a party that opposed same-sex marriage. These senators may believe, as Sen. Ted Cruz apparently does, that by blocking the bill, they’re representing the party. But that assumption is no longer true. Over the past two decades, among rank-and-file Republicans, opposition to gay marriage has plummeted. If today’s 50 Republican senators truly represented their voters, they wouldn’t just be supplying 10 votes for the Respect for Marriage Act. They’d be supplying 20 or 25.
MONA CHAREN: Conservatives Are the New Useful Idiots.
At the moment when freedom-loving people around the world are elated (if on tenterhooks) at the progress of Ukrainian forces in pushing back the Russian invaders, Heritage Action, the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation, has joined with other self-styled conservative groups to oppose helping Ukraine fight for its life. I know, I know, the Trumpification of the GOP has been a fact for six years, and yet this heel turn is remarkable. It’s as if People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that they support puppy mills for medical research. Responding to President Biden’s request that Congress appropriate another $13.7 billion to help the Ukrainians cope with energy price hikes and other security needs, Heritage Action urged a no vote, railing that “These funding requests ignore the concerns of the American people.”
The pro-Putin, pro-authoritarian voices in the GOP are not yet a majority—about a quarter of House Republicans and 11 of 50 Senators voted against the $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in May—but they’re not a small minority either, and the wind is at their backs. CPAC has all but canonized Hungary’s strongman Viktor Orban, and in the first hours after Putin rolled into Ukraine, Trump reveled in the murderer’s “savvy” and “genius.” The 2022 election could bring more authoritarian-friendly Republicans to Congress, and meanwhile, hatcheries of conservative orthodoxy like Fox News and The Federalist are doing the spade work of persuading the base that Kremlin propaganda is more trustworthy—pravda, if you will—than the New York Times.
About that Durham inquiry… The grand jury expired, but largely nothing came of it. Whether we see the report is up to AG Merrick Garland.
Meanwhile… Alex Jones’s second trial doesn’t seem to be going too well for him.
The 9/11 Memorials… David Priess and Marita Sturken discuss our response to the terror attacks.
‘My Son Hunter’… Isn’t Even Fun to Make Fun Of.
Time to call it quits… Six former lawmakers on why they retired from Congress.
The Grand Old Party of Crybabies… How Republicans embraced the victimhood mythology they once denounced.
Giving it away… The founder of Patagonia is no longer a billionaire, because he gave away his company.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.