Tuesday, November 01, 2022


I frequently quote The Bulwark and other Never Trump sources. I know that some people despise the Never Trumpers because most of them proudly worked for the GOP as it became increasingly more extreme and dangerous to America. I agree that most Never Trumpers have a lot to answer for. But the movement is often more forthright about the dangers poses by the present-day GOP than many Democrats or the "liberal" media.

Here's The Bulwark's William Saletan, who used to be a relentlessly bothsiderist Slate columnist, not a Republican operative. Saletan, however, says about Republicans today what many ex-party operatives in the Never Trump movement say:
Chris Sununu, the governor of New Hampshire, ... concedes that the 2020 election was free and fair. He acknowledges climate change. He has criticized Republican leaders for ostracizing Rep. Liz Cheney and other principled dissidents while protecting the party’s worst extremists.

That’s why Sununu’s decision in the final weeks of the 2022 campaign to embrace election deniers is a particularly bad sign. Like other Republican officials, he has decided that sabotage of public faith in democracy doesn’t matter, as long as the saboteurs are Republicans. And he’s defending their reckless behavior with pernicious excuses....

Last Tuesday, in a gubernatorial debate, Sununu was asked why he supported candidates who claimed “without evidence that elections were stolen.” He didn’t dispute that characterization of their views. Instead, he said endorsement decisions should be based on more than just “one issue,” as though election denial were no different from energy subsidies or water management.
Among the deniers Sununu supports is the state's Republican Senate candidate, Don Bolduc.
In a Senate debate, [Bolduc] said the people of New Hampshire “don’t like the fact that they can’t trust the mail-in ballot system,” that there were “proven irregularities with voting machines,” and that “same-day voter-registration causes fraud.” He added: “We need to make sure that school buses loaded with people at the polls don’t come in and vote.” ...

Investigations and fact checks have found no evidence to support the allegation about buses (which has been around for years) or claims of fraud in New Hampshire’s 2020 election....

It’s bad enough that quacks like Bolduc peddle this nonsense. But now there’s a second tier of Republicans—Glenn Youngkin and Ron DeSantis, for example—who, while not affirming the lies about massive fraud, proudly campaign for election deniers. Sununu, like others, has joined this tier.
To Saletan and The Bulwark, backing deniers is unacceptable. To The New York Times, it just makes a candidate interesting. Here's a Times story about Glenn Youngkin:
Among the politicians, local news reporters and members of the Nansemond River High School marching band who had gathered in front of the colossal new Amazon Robotics Fulfillment Center, no one was more upbeat than Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

“Oh my gosh, how much fun is this!” he exclaimed, enthusing over “the coolest robots you have ever seen,” extolling the lifelong rewards of music to the band members and tossing out a “Hi there, Glenn Youngkin!” to nearly every Amazon employee he passed.

After a few minutes of touring the center, the governor stepped away. Minutes later, he was live on Fox News, lamenting that voters were suffering under Democratic governance. “They’re tired of the chaos,” Mr. Youngkin said, blaming Democrats for rampant inflation, poorly performing schools and urban crime.

Then he was back in the Amazon lobby, as sunny as ever.

Such is the choreography that Mr. Youngkin has been performing in his first year as the ambitious Republican governor of a state that Joe Biden won handily in 2020. Talking of “kitchen-table concerns” and “common sense,” he boasts of teacher and police raises, funding for school construction, business recruitment and $4 billion in tax cuts.

But the Youngkin portfolio to date also includes banning the teaching of “divisive concepts” in schools, proposing policies requiring transgender students to have formal parental permission to identify as such, aiming to withdraw from a multistate greenhouse gas reduction compact and engaging in what some veterans of state politics describe as unusually harsh partisan combat with the Democrat-held State Senate.

So far, the dance has been working. Mr. Youngkin’s approval ratings sit somewhat above 50 percent....
Youngkin has been dancing with denialists and other radical rightists, and engaged in some ugliness of his own:
He came under fire himself on Friday, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband was badly injured in what appeared to be a politically motivated assault in San Francisco. Mr. Youngkin appeared to make light of the situation at a campaign rally for a House candidate, saying that “there’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her back to be with him in California.” ...

In September Mr. Youngkin headlined a fund-raiser for Paul LePage, who is trying to recapture the governor’s office in Maine after drawing national attention for a litany of inflammatory comments about race and other matters, and this month he rallied with Kari Lake, the candidate for Arizona governor who has been a steadfast denier of the 2020 election results....

On Wednesday, he was standing in a warehouse in Scottsdale, Ariz., rallying voters to turn out for Ms. Lake as she decried an “invasion at the border,” the “woke indoctrination” of schoolchildren and the false claim that the federal government “was going to force” children to take “experimental” Covid vaccines.
But the Times story seems to be telling us that this isn't troubling -- it's fascinating, because he still has a positive approval rating and he could run for president. So what's important is that he's getting away with the outreach to extremists, not that he's helping the people who want to destroy democracy's guardrails by grabbing their sledgehammers and taking a swing or two of his own.

If this is the liberal media, I'll take the centrists. I'll take Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens and Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot and David Frum. At least they know how much trouble we're in, and how important it is to recognize the current GOP as an existential threat.

No comments: