Why Won't Republicans Take the Next Step?

If what Donald Trump is doing now is dangerous and irresponsible then . . .

1. Logic Chains

We are seeing some slow bits of unwinding as a handful of conservatives and Republicans start to say that what Donald Trump is doing is irresponsible/dangerous/what-have-you.

  • Stephen Schwarzman says Trump lost.

  • Chris Christie says that Trump’s “legal team”—nota bene—“is a national embarrassment.”

  • The editors of National Review call Trump’s behavior “disgraceful” and “the most outlandish and irresponsible performance ever by a group of lawyers representing a president of the United States.”

I think it’s actually worth quoting that National Review editorial at a little more length:

Getting nowhere in court, the White House appears to be shifting to a political strategy based on blocking the certification of results and getting state legislatures to appoint Trump electors in states Trump lost. This is a profoundly undemocratic gambit that, if it were to enjoy any success, would precipitate a major constitutional crisis. . . .

The most obvious way to prevent this travesty is for Republican state legislators to continue to reject it, the way almost all have done to this point. But they haven’t yet experienced a potential full-court press from Trump and his supporters (the Republican leaders of the Michigan state senate and house have been summoned to a White House meeting today). It’s also important for Republican senators to speak out against this effort and make it clear that they won’t stand for it when it comes time for Congress to consider electors. Finally, it’d be best of all if the president reconsidered going down this route.

He’s turning a narrow election defeat into a bid for infamy.

Yay? I guess?

But it would be nice to have these people—at least some of them, or even one of them—take the next logical step.

Because if President Trump is committing a national embarrassment, making a bid for infamy, precipitating a constitutional crisis, then why did these people spend the last year stumping for Donald Trump and making the case for his reelection?

Aren’t Trump’s latest actions—which he promised he would take well before the election—proof of his unfitness for office?

Doesn’t Trump’s don’t-call-it-a-coup attempt that these people are now upset about prove that they were wrong to support him?

That’s all I’m looking for. Just one Trump defender—literally just one—to stand up and say, “Yeah, I was wrong. This guy is dangerous in ways I didn’t fully understand. I’m glad Joe Biden won. America dodged a bullet by not reelecting this man.”


The reason I want someone, somewhere to follow this logic chain isn’t spite or self-satisfaction.

It’s that Republican/conservative politics has become utterly dominated by the precepts of kabuki theater, where one side is dastardly and the other side is pure and good and everyone plays pretend, no matter what the reality is.

Which is how you get stuff like this which was broadcast on Fox Business on November 11:

Did Fox really believe that this was going to be Joe Biden’s cabinet?

Of course not. But they told their viewers it might, because that’s what their kabuki dance required.

And, if we’re going to do #RealTalk, a whole lot of Republicans/conservatives knew that Trump was dangerous all along. But they wouldn’t say it out loud. Because it would violate the rules of kabuki.

Even now, when a thimbleful of these people are finally saying “Trump is doing something dangerous” they can’t bring themselves to say, “And it’s a good thing for America that Joe Biden is the president-elect.”

This is true for bad guys,like Peggy Noonan, who now says that what Donald Trump is doing is “deeply destructive,” but just a few weeks ago was equivocating and bragging about how she wrote in Edmund Burke for president.

And it’s true for good guys, like Larry Hogan. Over the weekend Gov. Hogan took some more shots at Donald Trump, saying that the president hadn’t done his job in protecting Americans from the pandemic and needed to “stop golfing and concede.”

Who did Larry Hogan vote for? He wrote in Ronald Reagan.

Again: I’m not demanding that all of these people sit in a corner with dunce caps on for the next four years. But the fact that literally not one of them, anywhere, has come out to say that they were mistaken, that Donald Trump is and was a danger, and that Biden’s win was important for liberal democracy is telling.


At The Bulwark, we don’t do kabuki. We tell the truth, without fear or favor. Come with us.

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2. Skynet

In case you don’t have enough to worry about, the entire shape of modern warfare is changing right before our eyes. Armenia and Azerbaijan just fought a 44-day conflict. One side had tanks, missile defenses, and dug-in positions.

The other side had a bunch of cheap, disposable drones.

Guess who won?

From the Washington Post:

Azerbaijan used its drone fleet — purchased from Israel and Turkey — to stalk and destroy Armenia’s weapons systems in Nagorno-Karabakh, shattering its defenses and enabling a swift advance. Armenia found that air defense systems in Nagorno-Karabakh, many of them older Soviet systems, were impossible to defend against drone attacks, and losses quickly piled up. . . .

Azerbaijan, frustrated at a peace process that it felt delivered nothing, used its Caspian Sea oil wealth to buy arms, including a fleet of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones and Israeli kamikaze drones (also called loitering munitions, designed to hover in an area before diving on a target). . . .

In the early stages of the war, Azerbaijan used 11 slow Soviet-era An-2 aircraft that had been converted into drones and sent them buzzing over Nagorno-Karabakh as bait to Armenian air defense systems — tempting them to fire and reveal their positions, after which they could be hit by drones.

Azerbaijan used surveillance drones to spot targets and sent armed drones or kamikaze drones to destroy them, analysts said. . . .

Their tally, which logs confirmed losses with photographs or videos, listed Armenian losses at 185 T-72 tanks; 90 armored fighting vehicles; 182 artillery pieces; 73 multiple rocket launchers; 26 surface-to-air missile systems, including a Tor system and five S-300s; 14 radars or jammers; one SU-25 war plane; four drones and 451 military vehicles.

Azerbaijan, the group concluded, had visually confirmed losses of 22 tanks, 41 armored forced vehicles, one helicopter, 25 drones and 24 vehicles.

This is a revolution in military affairs and it’s not going to stop at air-to-ground conflict. We’re going to see drones equalize naval conflicts, too, making it even more expensive to project power across oceans.

If there’s a “good news” when it comes to drone warfare, it’s that the drones aren’t autonomous yet. But that’s coming, too.

The world around us is less stable than we think. And it’s becoming more so every day.


3. Down Syndrome

A heart-stoppingly beautiful piece from my friend J.D. Flynn:

My son Max is a beautiful boy. He is tall and lean, with soft blonde hair and eyes the color and shape of almonds. Max is 8. He loves Spiderman, his brother and sister, and wrestling with Dad. Max is sensitive, empathic and kind.

My daughter Pia is 7. Pia is the funniest person I know. I don’t say that because I am her dad; I say it because Pia has great timing and a penchant for mimicry. She is hilarious.

Pia is also athletic, curious and a performer. If they let her, she seats guests on the couch and performs for them the entire score of “The Greatest Showman” or “Hamilton.”

Pia and Max are both adopted, and they both have Down syndrome, trisomy 21.

Of course, I thought about my children as I read the December cover story of The Atlantic on Down syndrome diagnoses and abortion. But I also thought about their birth moms. . . .

The best estimates suggest that more than 70 percent of U.S. women with prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome have abortions. Women report facing medical and family pressure to do so. But our children’s birth mothers took hard news, and they chose to bring vulnerable, inconvenient, unpredictable and challenging babies into the world. That was not easy. . . .

When parenting their children did not seem like the right choice, they chose to make adoption plans for them. I cannot imagine a more difficult moment for a mother or a more poignant expression of selfless love. They are our heroes. They gave life to our children and made choices for them that came at great personal cost. . . .

My wife and I are not pious or sentimental about our children’s lives. And we do not think facile stereotypes represent them well. They do suffer. Pia has had cancer twice and has come very close to death. Max has sensory issues that make textures and tastes and sounds sometimes a near insurmountable burden. Speech is a struggle for them. Reading and math take focused efforts. They want to be with and befriend their peers, and gradually, I fear, they are becoming aware of their limitations and aware that they are different. . . .

But I have realized they are not unique because they suffer. They are unique because they do not hide suffering well. It does not occur to them that suffering might be secret or a source of shame. I mask anxiety with a veneer of confident affability. I know how to make it seem I am doing better than I am. I have picked up the idea that I should project strength, independence and poise.

My children have no such pretenses.

Read the whole thing. You’ll be glad that you did.