Tuesday, November 10, 2020


This is the conventional wisdom about the unified Republican response to the election, which is to insist that the president's absurd claims of mass electoral fraud in multiple states have merit:
Top Republicans in Washington are reluctant to call Joe Biden the president-elect publicly, fearing a rebellion by grassroots conservatives loyal to President Trump that would sink the party’s Senate majority.

Republican insiders privately concede Biden ousted Trump and dismiss suggestions voter fraud, ballot errors, or other issues would be uncovered sufficient to alter the election. But with the president claiming otherwise and two Georgia runoff elections set for January that will decide the Senate majority, plus midterm elections in 2022, most congressional Republicans are backing Trump. The move is purely transactional.
So because the party has no broadly popular policies, and because every message Trump pushes becomes a litmus test they must pass, they're backing him up, poisoning their base voters' minds even more against non-white voters in Philadelphia and Atlanta and Milwaukee just to win a few elections.

Never mind the fact that because Senate control is on the line in Georgia, they're well positioned to turn out their base with the usual scare tactics (DEMOCRATIC WINS = BLM ANTIFA SOCIALISM GUN-GRABBING 1619 PROJECT GREEN NEW DEAL SOROS AOC!!1!1!!!!). And never mind the fact that they'll have a natural advantage in 2022 (the party that holds the White House routinely loses seats in its first midterms), and most of the Republican seats being contested are in states where Democrats struggle to win.

No, they're going for it, and the fact that 2022 is mentioned in this article suggests that they'll continue to slander Democratic cities as cesspools of corruption for at least the next two years, in exactly the way Trump does.

Of course Republicans in the House and Senate want to keep winning. But what's in it for this guy?
Attorney General William P. Barr, wading into President Trump’s unfounded accusations of widespread election irregularities, told federal prosecutors on Monday that they were allowed to investigate “specific allegations” of voter fraud before the results of the presidential race are certified....

Mr. Barr said he had authorized “specific instances” of investigative steps in some cases....

Mr. Barr’s directive ignored the Justice Department’s longstanding policies intended to keep law enforcement from affecting the outcome of an election. And it followed a move weeks before the election in which the department lifted a prohibition on voter fraud investigations before an election.

“Given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions,” Mr. Barr wrote.
You can argue that Republican senators are backing Trump because they want to rally their voters for the Georgia Senate runoffs and the 2022 midterms, and they're doing this even though they know Trump will lose in court. But what's Barr's motivation? If he assumes Trump's challenges will fail, what does he get out of fighting on? He avoids being fired? He's out of a job in January no matter what. Unless...

Unless he thinks his lawyers can gin something up. I understand that they'd have to do it fast, much faster than they usually do.

The conventional widsdom is that he's mollifying Trump -- but maybe he wants to set investigations in motion that will continue long after Trump is gone, even though he won't personally benefit. (Assuming Biden becomes president, I expect the election to be his Benghazi, endlessly investigated and endlessly a "cloud" over his presidency even though scandalous wrongdoing is never found.) Maybe he thinks that if he's a battling Trumpian to the last, his memoir will sell better (it will) and his lecture fees will be higher (hard to say). Maybe he thinks he'll be welcomed back into a new Republican administration after the 2024 elections, when he'll be in his mid-seventies.

Or maybe all these folks believe there's a non-zero chance they can actually succeed. I'm not ready to rule that out.

Here's more conventional wisdom talk from The Washington Post:
... there has been little coaxing on the part of senior GOP lawmakers to help Trump come to terms with his loss. Some said there is value in ensuring the integrity of this year’s results, while others described a chaotic and scattershot operation that they hoped would eventually push Trump to cooperate in a peaceful transfer of power.

“What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change,” said one senior Republican official. “He went golfing this weekend. It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”
But even if that's true, 47% of the country will have an even darker view of Democrats and cities and black voters and "the Deep State." Then we'll be even more divided and the right will be even angrier and more paranoid (and better armed -- I guarantee you that gun sales are rising right now, and will rise even more if Trump's lawsuits fail and Biden's win is certified). But these cynics don't care that they're encouraging a state of permanent cold civil war. They're sure they won't be harmed by this. It'll be the rest of us who suffer as the country continues to fracture.

No comments: