Sunday, January 21, 2024


I enjoy most of what E.J. Dionne writes, but, like many pundits, he's fallen for the notion that there's a Republican crack-up taking place.

In his latest column, Dionne writes:
The prevailing wisdom going into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary sees Donald Trump as triumphant. But don’t mistake him for a colossus leading a mighty band. This view ignores the opportunism behind many of the endorsements he is winning and the sharp split between Republicans who want to govern and those who don’t.

While there is certainly polarization between our parties, the primary cause of the deep distemper in American politics is the polarization within the Republican Party. Trump’s apparent dominance distracts from what the behavior of elected GOP politicians in Washington teaches us day after day: The party is a mess.
Dionne claims that "the party is a mess" because, among other things, there's a "sharp split between Republicans who want to govern and those who don’t." But there isn't. In this as in so many other things -- including support for Trump -- the only split is between those who take the edgelord position enthusiastically and those who take it in order to fend off future primary challenges from the right. Just about every time there's a split between the crazies in the GOP and the so-called governing wing, the people in the latter group go along with the extremists to preserve their own political viability. Whether it's backing Trump, abandoning Ukraine, or blocking a compromise on immigration, Republicans who are willing to be reasonable yield to Republicans who aren't.

You may call that disunity. I call it unity.

Dionne continues:
... Trump’s victory in the Iowa caucuses created the feel of a party falling in behind him. Telling were endorsements from Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), two politicians the vindictive front-runner repeatedly mocked, humiliated and slandered. So much for self-respect.
That doesn't create the feel of a party falling in behind Trump. That is a party falling in behind Trump. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis will be next, after they lose in South Carolina.
But even if the punditry proves right, the GOP is in no way cohesive or coherent. Just look at the Republican majority in the House, which can’t govern without Democratic help.
This presumes that Republicans want to govern. The dominant edgelords don't.
Meanwhile, Senate and House Republicans are at odds on the most important foreign policy question of the moment: whether the United States will continue to stand up against Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
Yup, and while there are many Republicans who think it's very important to back Ukraine in this fight against Putin, they don't think it's as important as owning the libs by refusing to pass a compromise bill on immigration and aid to Ukraine.
... If the Senate reaches a bipartisan deal and [House Speaker Mike] Johnson rejects it, he will be the reason Ukraine isn’t funded and the United States loses credibility around the world.
Yes, but Biden will be denied a win. That's all that matters, even to supposedly pro-"governing" Republicans in the House.
Even Trump’s big victory in Iowa belied the idea that Trump’s army would walk through fire for him. Many were plainly unwilling to ignore the bitter cold and icy roads on caucus night. Only about 110,000 of the roughly 750,000 registered Republicans in the state participated, down more than 40 percent from the 187,000 who joined the last competitive caucuses in 2016.
Yes, but "the last competitive caucuses in 2016" were actually competitive. Ted Cruz beat Trump, the national front-runner, with 27.6% of the vote. Trump was at 24.3%, Marco Rubio at 23.1%. Nine candidates earned at least one delegate. This time, the results were a foregone conclusion.
The divisions among those hardy voters were deep, pointing to President Biden’s opportunities to drive wedges into the GOP electorate. The entrance poll found that Trump drew just 37 percent among college graduates, compared with 67 percent among non-graduates.
Yes, but 26% of those college graduates supported Ron DeSantis, which means that even the college-educated minority of caucus voters is solidly in the pro-authoritarianism camp.
... And 31 percent said they would not consider Trump fit to be president if he were convicted of a crime....
Oh, please. They'll still vote for him, assuming that any of the trials can be completed by November. They'll accept the argument that the process was rigged, an argument that will be repeated ad nauseam by every Republican apart from professional apostates like Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney.
Sure, Democrats have their divisions, too. Party loyalists range from the center to the left, and some of their loud fights doomed parts of Biden’s program in the last Congress. But what’s remarkable is how much they did pass with narrow House and Senate margin....

The difference is that Democrats want to govern because they believe government has a chance to do good. This means even the party’s most left-wing members will compromise to take a step or two forward even when they want to take four.
Progressive Democrats do a lot of compromising. It's the Whatever Billionaires Want Caucus, led by Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, that won't. (Neither is a Democrat now, and good riddance.)
Republicans, on the other hand, are riven between those willing to govern — even, occasionally, with Democrats — and those who will be satisfied only if Trump is president. They presume this would allow them to roll over the left, the liberals and the moderates alike.
Oh, they presume even a Nikki Haley presidency will allow them to roll over Democrats. And largely because she and Trump would appoint exactly the same Leonard Leo-selected federal judges, and govern from the same Heritage Society handbook, they're probably right. (Haley, in fact, might follow the handbook in a much more disciplined fashion than Trump.)
Failing to see the GOP as a party torn asunder allows Trump to seem stronger than he is. He uses this perceived supremacy to cow Republicans who hold the quaint view that governing in a reasonable and (small-d) democratic way is the point of getting elected.
And if Trump chokes on a hamburger tomorrow, the entire Fox prime-time lineup and right-wing "thought leaders" like Steve Bannon will cow the Republican nominee and the nominee's supporters in precisely the same way, and they'll continue deferring to the crazies.
Is it just wish-casting to think New Hampshire may seize the opportunity to send them the message that it’s their duty to fight back?
Of course it is.

Please stop saying that there's a Republican crack-up. There isn't. A dozen House Republican leaders might be defenstrated between now and the end of the decade, but the party will continue to be completely united against the rest of us. The party will still have power in the states to terrorize abortion-seekers or trans people. The party will control the Supreme Court until long after you and I are dead. The GOP is not going anywhere.

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