Tuesday, March 16, 2021


Josh Marshall recently wrote:
... it’s not too soon to note that some of our assumptions about ex-President Trump’s post-presidency missed the mark. With the exception of his CPAC speech which was generally regarded as a flat, low-energy affair Trump has been almost entirely out of the spotlight. He did pick this fight over whether money should go to GOP party committees or only to him directly. But the follow through has been scattered....
Three months ago, I assumed that Trump would be regularly conducting MAGA rallies now, after holding one on the day of Joe Biden's inauguration to announce a third run for president. I imagined he'd be traveling to the states of officeholders who opposed him, rallying the faithful to vote those traitors out. I thought he'd be back on Fox & Friends every week, or maybe several times a week, spreading falsehoods and burnishing his brand.

None of that is happening. Trump is avoiding the spotlight -- and yet the GOP is no better than it was three months ago.

This is largely because the GOP was horrible long before Trump, in many ways that we incorrectly ascribe to Trump's influence. Does this remind you of anything?

It takes me back:
In 2005, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) claimed in a speech on the Senate floor that prayer rugs and notebooks filled with Arabic writing were being discovered in border regions. But Hutchison didn’t offer any proof of the rugs, saying that she had heard of them only as “stories of suspicious items picked up by local residents.”

Since then, the idea of prayer rugs being discovered on the border as proof of a terrorist invasion has recurred every few years on the right.

In 2014, Breitbart published a story touting the discovery of a “Muslim prayer rug” in Arizona. But a picture of the “prayer rug” showed that it was just a torn Adidas jersey.
Trump tweeted a prayer rug rumor when it showed up in a Washington Examiner story in 2019, but he was playing a cover version of an old classic.

Elsewhere, Trumpism seems to be self-sustaining -- it doesn't appear to require Trump's active presence anymore:
The Alaska Republican Party has voted to censure U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and will recruit a challenger to run against her in next year’s election....

Under party rules, a resolution of censure is just “an official rebuke and disapproval,” but a copy of Saturday’s resolution explicitly states that the party “will hereby recruit a Republican Party challenger to oppose and prohibit Senator Murkowski from being a candidate in any Republican primary to the extent legally permissible.”
The heresy of anti-Trumpism is now just one more thing right-wingers are aggrieved about:
The resolution cites unhappiness with Murkowski’s votes on the impeachment, votes in favor of abortion rights, a vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a vote against the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and votes supporting the confirmation of Deb Haaland as secretary of the Interior Department.
An Anchorage Daily News letter-writer tells the paper that she hopes Sarah Palin jumps into the race, in case you're remembering the pre-Trump GOP as a serious governing party. Palin did threaten to run against Murkowski after Murkowski voted against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, so who knows? She might be a candidate.)

Apart from that, what's worth noting is that Republicans are on offense. This is what's been exhausting about American politics for decades: Republicans are always on offense. They wake up every morning with a fresh set of slanders to spread and grievances to complain about. They're obsessed with defining themselves (as champions of all that is good and decent) and with defining their opponents (as history's greatest monsters). And they characterize every person or institution they disagree with as a potential destroyer of civilization.

So Fox News is now in its third week of railing against the voluntary withdrawal of six Dr. Seuss books by the Seuss estate and the "cancel culture" this decision supposedly represents. Senator Ron Johnson is complaining that he's being "silenced by the left," in an editorial published by the largest-circulation newspaper in America. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is happily touring Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Long Island, after being invited by a Chovevei Zion, a Brooklyn-based group of Orthodox Republicans whose executive director praised her as "nothing but a friend and ally for our community."

If you've been waiting for the moment when Republicans will start acting abashed, or begin examining their own behavior over the past several years, or acknowledge that their critics have a point about ... well, anything, you're going to have a long wait, because that moment will never come. It might come if Democrats beat Republicans mercilessly in several consecutive election cycles -- but Democrats trounced Republicans in 2006 and 2008 and the GOP only got worse.

Trumpism hasn't supplanted old-school Republicanism. Trumpism has simply been added to all the other toxic strains of Republicanism. And we're getting them all again, full strength.

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