Wednesday, December 30, 2020


There you go:
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said on Wednesday that he will object during Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, becoming the first GOP senator to back the effort by House conservatives.

The decision by Hawley would ensure a debate and vote in the House and Senate on the Electoral College results.

“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws," Hawley said in a statement.
Two thoughts:

First, remember this moment just after the Electoral College voting on December 14?
Breaking with President Trump’s drive to overturn his election loss, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Tuesday congratulated President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on his victory and began a campaign to keep fellow Republicans from joining a doomed last-ditch effort to reverse the outcome in Congress.

... his actions were a clear bid by the majority leader, who is the most powerful Republican in Congress, to put an end to his party’s attempts to sow doubt about the election.

He was also trying to stave off a messy partisan spectacle on the floor of the House that could divide Republicans at the start of the new Congress, forcing them to choose between showing loyalty to Mr. Trump and protecting the sanctity of the electoral process.
Was McConnell sincere about trying to contain the crazy? Or was he just trying to fool the mainstream media and the public into believing that the "real" GOP is reality-based and doesn't want to challenge the results, all the while knowing that a challenge by at least one senator was inevitable?

I assume it's the latter. And this is nothing new: Going at least as far back as the days of the Vince Foster conspiracy theory and the Clinton Body Count, Republicans have encouraged the spread in the right-wing media of tinfoil-hat nonsense, which is extremely effective at building Republican (or at least anti-Democratic) tribal loyalty, while posing as respectable, responsible right-centrists whenever mainstream journalists are paying attention. It works. It's worked for decades. Heartland white voters who aren't conspiracy nuts continue to regard the GOP as a party of sober, sensible patriots, even as the lunacy Republicans encourage consumes more and more of the debate. McConnell surely knew he could allow the challenge to happen without most journalists ever asking whether his party is rotten to the core -- all he'd have to do was create the illusion that the party was against it.

Second thought: Now that the dam has been breached, how many Republican senators will join Hawley?

I assume that answer is "Most of them." Perhaps only a handful (Tommy Tuberville, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz) will formally object along with Hawley -- but when the two houses of Congress vote on the challenges to the state electors, I assume a majority of Republicans in both chambers will go full MAGA and declare the real electors to be illegitimate. What choice do they have now, if they want to remain viable in their party? And more important: What's the downside?

In a healthy country, Donald Trump's war against democracy would have caused his poll numbers to plummet. Instead, they've barely budged: On Election Day, according to Real Clear Politics, Trump's job approval rating was 45.9%; now it's 44.1%. His disapproval was 52.5%; now it's 53.1%. At Five ThirtyEight, Trump's his job approval has dropped from 44.6% to 42.7%, while disapproval has increased from 52.6% to 53.1%. These are barely perceptible shifts -- and we know that huge majorities of Republican voters believe Joe Biden stole the election.

So it's clear that this craziness alienates few if any voters who are gettable for Republicans -- but resisting the craziness would. So expect a lot of Republicans in the Senate and House to go for it.

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