Thursday, January 14, 2021


Mr. Shapiro, 33, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is the cool kid’s philosopher, dissecting arguments with a lawyer’s skill and references to Aristotle.
--from a 2017 New York Times profile of Ben Shapiro
Ben Shapiro is the guest editor of this morning's Politico Playbook, and he uses the opportunity to do some of the cool kids' philosophizing and lawyerly argument-dissecting for which he's so greatly admired. Shapiro writes:
Opposition to impeachment [among House Republicans] comes from a deep and abiding conservative belief that members of the opposing political tribe want their destruction, not simply to punish Trump for his behavior. Republicans believe that Democrats and the overwhelmingly liberal media see impeachment as an attempt to cudgel them collectively by lumping them in with the Capitol rioters thanks to their support for Trump.

The evidence for that position isn’t difficult to find.

Sen. RON WYDEN (D-Ore.) suggested this week at that the only way to prevent a repeat of the Capitol riot was endorsement of a full slate of Democratic agenda items. Rep. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-N.Y.) suggested that “Southern states are not red states, they are suppressed states, which means the only way that our country is going to heal is through the actual liberation of Southern states ...” And PAUL KRUGMAN of The New York Times placed blame for the Capitol riots on the entire Republican Party infrastructure: “This Putsch Was Decades In The Making.”

Unity looks a lot like “sign onto our agenda, or be lumped in with the Capitol rioters.”
But Wyden, Ocasio-Cortez, and Krugman aren't saying anything about "unity," or anything resembling “sign onto our agenda, or be lumped in with the Capitol rioters.” Shapiro asserts that they are, and he expects you to accept his assertion because he's made it. But there's no evidence for it.

Wyden, in his op-ed, writes:
In the wake of this attack, Democrats must use our majorities in Congress to pass reforms that will defend our democracy from the forces that supported, incited and fueled the riots — which means making it easier for every American to vote. Congress cannot — must not — move forward in the belief that the end of Donald Trump's presidency means all is well in our country.

After all, what happened after police cleared the Capitol building and workers began cleaning up the wreckage and blood? Republicans walked right back into the House and Senate chambers and continued spreading the same lies about voters and voting rights that had drawn the mob to the Capitol in the first place.
All Wyden is saying is this: Republicans claim that voting laws make it too easy to cast fraudulent votes, but Democrats believe the laws make it too hard to cast legitimate votes, especially for members of Democratic-leaning groups. Wyden doesn't even mention seeking Republican support for a voting-law overhaul. (Presumably he'd like the reforms passed by simple majorities in the House and then a post-filibuster Senate.)

Shapiro also cites an Ocasio-Cortez Instagram livestream that's quoted in a piece at National Review:
During the stream, she said that Democrats’ U.S. Senate wins in Georgia were a result of “multi-racial” and “multi-cultural” grassroots organization and a sign that “southern states are not red states, they are suppressed states.”

“Which means the only way that our country’s going to heal is through the actual liberation of southern states,” she said. “The actual liberation of the poor, the actual liberation of working people from economic, social, and racial oppression. That’s the only way.”
Is Ocasio-Cortez asserting that Republicans must vote for the Democratic agenda or be lumped with the rioters? No. She's a Democrat rooting for more Democratic electoral wins, which she believes will lead to the enactment of more Democratic policies, which she believes would be good for America. How dare she say this! How dare she assert that people would be better off if the policies she espouses could become law! What does she think she is -- a partisan politician?

Krugman's column is also not about "unity," nor is it an ultimatum to Republicans. He tells us where we are:
One striking aspect of the Capitol Hill putsch was that none of the rioters’ grievances had any basis in reality.

No, the election wasn’t stolen — there is no evidence of significant electoral fraud. No, Democrats aren’t part of a satanic pedophile conspiracy. No, they aren’t radical Marxists — even the party’s progressive wing would be considered only moderately left of center in any other Western democracy.

So all the rage is based on lies. But what’s almost as striking as the fantasies of the rioters is how few leading Republicans have been willing, despite the violence and desecration, to tell the MAGA mob that their conspiracy theories are false.
And where we've been:
... white supremacy has always been sustained in large part through voter suppression. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see right-wingers howling about a rigged election — after all, rigging elections is what their side is accustomed to doing. And it’s not clear to what extent they actually believe that this election was rigged, as opposed to being enraged that this time the usual vote-rigging didn’t work.

But it’s not just about race. Since Ronald Reagan, the G.O.P. has been closely tied to the hard-line Christian right. Anyone shocked by the prevalence of insane conspiracy theories in 2020 should look back to “The New World Order,” published by Reagan ally Pat Robertson in 1991, which saw America menaced by an international cabal of Jewish bankers, Freemasons and occultists. Or they should check out a 1994 video promoted by Jerry Falwell Sr. called “The Clinton Chronicles,” which portrayed Bill Clinton as a drug smuggler and serial killer.
He's saying that the GOP has long used racist manipulation of elections to stay in power, and that the party has been conspiratorialist for decades. He's not demanding forced submission to a Democratic agenda. He's just giving us a history lesson.

Wyden, Ocasio-Cortez, and Krugman aren't threatening to denounce Republicans as coup conspirators if they fail to embrace Democratic policy positions. They seem not to believe that Republicans are capable of reform. They simply want Democrats and Democratic ideas to prevail -- just the way Republicans like Shapiro want Republican ideas to prevail.

But the GOP line of the day is "Democrats are the real aggressors and dividers." I'd say that Shapiro started with this and looked for supporting examples, but he didn't even do that -- he just quoted some Democrats' words and proclaimed that they support his argument.

They don't. He knows they don't. But that's why he makes the big bucks. He doesn't let the fact that he has no case prevent him from making that case.

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