Wednesday, October 24, 2018


It's the last month of a campaign, so The New York Times is rising to right-wing bait again. This time it's the caravan.

Brian Beutler is largely correct:
... the coverage of the 2018 midterms looks as much like the coverage of the 2014 campaign as it does of the 2016 campaign, which is a damning fact, because it’s actually the third time journalists have allowed Trump to lead them by the nose to bullshit ahead of an election. Four Octobers ago, Trump—who was then a racist birther reality television show host, and thus an important figure in Republican politics—fanned racist panic about an Ebola outbreak in west Africa, which he and the GOP immediately stopped pretending to care about once Republicans won control of the Senate.

Republicans also predictably stopped pretending to care about government email protocols after the 2016 election, and, thus, so did journalists.
I have a couple of quibbles with this. First, the Ebola panic wasn't just Trump -- you'll recall that Fox News was obsessed with Ebola during the 2014 campaign, as were GOP politicians, among them then-New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who forced an uninfected nurse who'd been treating Ebola patients to sleep in a tent in an unheated parking garage less than a month before the 2014 midterms, until she went to court and won her freedom. I'll also note that Republicans may have stopped caring about government email protocols immediately after the 2016 election, but the GOP base still wants Hillary Clinton locked up.

Beutler is right about the real issues of the election:
A Democratic victory would put the risk [the Republican healthcare] agenda poses to millions of people’s health coverage to rest for at least two years. It would also uncork the congressional oversight function that Republicans have kept bottled up since Trump’s inauguration.

... if Democrats win back power in states, the range of potential policy changes would be vast, and could include expanded voting rights, gun safety regulations, Medicaid expansion, minimum wage increases, and, eventually input in the next redistricting.
But I disagree with Beutler on this:
If he loses Congress, Trump would look for “wins” in new places, and, with the GOP agenda on ice, he might partner with Democratic leadership to do interesting things—a public infrastructure bill, a minimum wage increase—which would be genuinely good for the country, but scramble 2020 politics in unpredictable ways.
Nope. Trump won't "look for 'wins'" in collaboration with Democrats. I know a lot of people believe he will, because Trump wasn't always a wingnut ideologue. But he's like every other old white person who watches Fox at least six hours a day -- he's drunk all the Kool-Aid and he knows that Democrats are the worst people who've ever walked the face of the earth. Besides, even if Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi seek deals on infrastructure or Dreamers, Mitch McConnell will find a way to bottle the deals up. I don't think we'll even get that far, because as soon as Democrats get that 218th seat (assuming it happens), Trump and congressional Republicans will begin implementing plans to start a 2020 campaign against the "do-nothing Democrats" in Congress. They won't want Democrats to win any victories. (Democrats, if they win the House, need to frame their failure to implement their agenda as a 2020 argument for why they need the Senate and the White House.)

I also don't agree with Beutler that the caravan, as a Republican issue, "will disappear the moment polls close on November 6." It's immigration -- there are few things the GOP base enjoys more than hating immigrants. What matters is that it isn't the most important issue in America. It doesn't affect as many people as healthcare affordability or income inequality or crumbling infrastructure. We can handle a group of asylum-seekers at the border. Republicans will lie about that even after November 6.

But it's true that they're lying harder now. The mainstream media shouldn't let itself get fished in. But it always does.

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