Friday, April 23, 2021


I don't like the way this is framed:

Saying that the events of January 6 were an indication of a "crisis" is like saying that below-zero weather in Siberia is an indication of a "crisis." It isn't -- it's just the nature of the environment. And even if you want to call what's happening in our politics a crisis, it's not a "Trump crisis" -- it's a Republican crisis.

Glasser seems to grasp that, more or less. She writes about the new book by former House Speaker John Boehner, who criticizes extremists in his party (even though they used to be his allies, of course):
Boehner draws a straight line from the [House] Freedom Caucus’s ascendancy to January 6th. He denounces the group’s members as “political terrorists” who emboldened the actual terrorists who stormed his old office on Capitol Hill, flatly debunks various Trump conspiracy theories, and calls the insurrection a “low point for our country.” I’ve always believed that the transformation of Congress into what Boehner calls Crazytown was both a prerequisite for, and a warning indicator of, the Trump follies to come. This account offers some sharp new material for that thesis.
And yet:
In an interview with Time magazine, Boehner admitted something that he did not in the book itself, which is that he voted for Trump in 2020, understanding full well that the President would never accept any election result that did not have him as the winner. “I voted for Donald Trump,” Boehner said. “I thought that his policies, by and large, mirrored the policies that I believed in.”

... Many of Trump’s critics within the Republican Party voted for him, too, as did those, like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who have emerged, post-January 6th, as leaders of a small but vocal new Republican congressional opposition to the former President. They did not repudiate him when it would have mattered, and that, in the end, is why he is gone but not at all forgotten. The Trump Administration is over; the Trump crisis is not.
People magazine tells us that George W. Bush didn't vote for Trump -- but he threw his vote away in a manner that I'm sure left him very pleased with himself:
He ... freely admitted he did not vote for either incumbent Republican President Donald Trump — of whom he has been only obliquely critical, and never by name — or Democrat Joe Biden in the November election.

Instead, Bush wrote in Condoleezza Rice, who served as his secretary of state from 2005 to 2009.
And Bush walked back some recent criticisms of his party, probably because he has a new book of paintings he's trying to sell, and he knows that most of the people who bought his early work were Republicans:
In an appearance on the Today show earlier this week, he said of the Republican Party: "I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist."

He clarified those comments to PEOPLE, saying, "Really what I should have said — there's loud voices who are isolationists, protectionists and nativists, something, by the way, I talked about when I was president."

"My concerns [are] about those -isms," he continued, "but I painted with too broad a brush ... because by saying what I said, it excluded a lot of Republicans who believe we can fix the problem."
Bush and the others can't quit the party, even though it has become almost exclusively nativist, and even though it's redoubling its efforts to steal elections, apparently having concluded that the only thing wrong with the way Trump was going about was that he and his party-mates hadn't made what he was trying to do legal first. In The New York Times, Rick Hasen writes:
A new, more dangerous front has opened in the voting wars, and it’s going to be much harder to counteract than the now-familiar fight over voting rules. At stake is something I never expected to worry about in the United States: the integrity of the vote count. The danger of manipulated election results looms....

Some of these efforts involve removing from power those who stood up to President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The Georgia law removes the secretary of state from decision-making power on the state election board....

Republican state legislatures have also passed or are considering laws aimed at stripping Democratic counties of the power to run fair elections. The new Georgia law gives the legislature the power to handpick an election official who could vote on the state election board for a temporary takeover of up to four county election boards during the crucial period of administering an election and counting votes....

A Texas bill would ... give challengers at the polls the ability not only to observe but to interfere with polling place procedures meant to ensure election integrity. According to a new report by Protect Democracy, Republican legislators have proposed at least 148 bills in 36 states that could increase the chances of cooking the electoral books.
Even David Brooks understands that, as the headline of his latest column puts it, the GOP is getting even worse.
Since the election, large swathes of the Trumpian right have decided America is facing a crisis like never before and they are the small army of warriors fighting with Alamo-level desperation to ensure the survival of the country as they conceive it....

This level of catastrophism, nearly despair, has fed into an amped-up warrior mentality.

“The decent know that they must become ruthless. They must become the stuff of nightmares,” Jack Kerwick writes in the Trumpian magazine American Greatness. “The good man must spare not a moment to train, in both body and mind, to become the monster that he may need to become in order to slay the monsters that prey upon the vulnerable.”

With this view, the Jan. 6 insurrection was not a shocking descent into lawlessness but practice for the war ahead.
But no one will do anything about it. Bush, Boehner, Kinzinger, and Liz Cheney still consider themselves Republicans in good standing. Donors who said they'd withhold money from pro-insurrection GOP officeholders are giving to those officeholders again, as Glasser notes.

No one ever asks Republican critics of the party how they can remain members in good conscience. We know the answer: It's because what's happening now is an evolution, not a break with the past. Boehner, Bush, and others engaged in or enabled right-wing radicalism until it went too far for them.

But if it really has gone too far and some of them think we're in a crisis, they have to make a clean break, or they're still enablers. The press has to ask every Republican who claims to be appalled by Trumpism and January 6: So shouldn't you quit the party? Do you see any evidence that the party will abandon the Big Lie of Democratic election theft, that it will abandon the extremism Trump embodied (but didn't create), that it will abandon nativism and white nationalism? And if you think you this is a temporary crisis, what are you doing to bring it to an end, and why isn't it working? Why does it seem to be getting worse?

But that won't happen. These people will still win praise from the mainstream media and from moderates (and some liberals) for, in effect, doing nothing. They'll never be questioned this way.

They've been protesting ineffectually for years, insisting that they're going to take the party back. Remember this book?

The former New Jersey governor and EPA administrator under George W. Bush presents a detailed and provocative critique of the Republican party's increasingly conservative and extremist views, recommending a moderate, solution-based approach to government that the author believes is more in line with traditional Republican principles.
It came out in 2005. It accomplished nothing. And the problem has only gotten worse since then.

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