Tuesday, February 06, 2024


A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled unanimously that Donald Trump doesn't have immunity from prosecution for crimes he committed while he was president. I'm glad the ruling is finally here, although it looks as if Trump will have some opportunity to continue playing stall ball, even if the panel limited that option:
The judges put their decision on hold only until Monday to allow Trump to ask the Supreme Court to take up the immunity fight on an emergency basis. If he does so, the decision won’t take effect until the high court acts on his request, the appeals panel decreed.

Trump could also ask the D.C. Circuit to rehear the case. But the panel said doing that won’t delay the return of the case to Chutkan, the trial judge, unless the full bench of the D.C. Circuit agrees to a rehearing, which requires a majority of the 11 active appellate judges.
I think this corrupt and partisan Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, in order to ensure that a Trump conviction on serious charges doesn't happen before the election. But maybe there are limits to what SCOTUS is willing to do for Trump. We'll see.


But that's not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about Very Serious people who think the Republican Party is falling apart. First, there's Rachel Maddow producer and blogger Steve Benen:
... there can be little doubt that one of the major American political parties is in disarray, but it’s not the Democratic Party. NBC News reported overnight:
In a striking turn of events, Senate Republicans threatened Monday to block a major bipartisan package of border security measures and asylum restrictions, just one day after their chief negotiator signed off on it. GOP senators left a special closed-door meeting in the evening predicting that their party would not provide enough votes to move forward with the package Wednesday, saying they agreed they need more time to discuss changes to the bill in the form of amendments.
In other words, Republican senators demanded that Democrats agree to a compromise package on border security and foreign aid; Democrats did as the GOP asked; and now Republicans are poised to reject the legislation they asked for.
That's not disarray -- that's array. The party came together on an approach to immigration (politicize it by demanding that Democrats agree to unpalatable right-wing policies in order to obtain aid for Ukraine and Israel) -- but then, when Democrats surprised them by actually expressing a willingness to do just that, Republicans came together on a plan to reject a bill full of those unpalatable right-wing policies. A party in disarray would have disagreed on the fate of this bill, but the GOP didn't -- it agreed, as it always does, on uniting around whatever owns the libs most effectively.

Last night on MSNBC, Benen's boss, Rachel Maddow, also declared that the GOP is falling apart. She said:
Each of the two major political parties in our country has done okay in previous election years, even when the parties themselves were organizationally kind of a mess. What is different here, what’s important for all of us here in this moment, is that the Republican Party now, in the age of Trump, appears to be not just a mess. They appear to be sort of dissolving themselves.
Yes, the Republican Party controls the Supreme Court, the House, and most state legislatures. It's on track to win back the Senate and its presumptive nominee leads in the polls for the presidency -- but it's "dissolving." Right. Got it.

Like many Very Smart people, Maddow overstated the importance of one aspect of the GOP's 2020 campaign:
... the moment in 2020 when ... the party decided there would no longer be a Republican Party platform. It decided that officially and explicitly, the Republican Party would no longer stand for any particular thing other than generically saying that they supported Trump’s overall agenda. “We stand for nothing except whatever the leader wants.” That was a signal moment.
The people who'll tell you that the GOP is a party that doesn't even have a platform anymore are the same people who express alarm that the Heritage Foundation has issued a document of nearly a thousand pages laying out an agenda for the next Republican president in excruciating (in more than one sense of the word) detail. So which is it? Does the GOP have a very detailed master plan to destroy America as we know it, or does the GOP have no future plans at all? It can't be both.

And the GOP doesn't just stand for "whatever the leader wants." It stands for abortion bans even though Trump is wary of them. It stands for massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare even though Trump insists he's opposed to them. It rejects COVID vaccines even though Trump praises them (or used to until he heard enough booing at his rallies to drop references to the vaccines from his speeches).

And as I keep telling you, the GOP stands for policies on which Trump is a follower and not a leader -- Christian nationalism, the demonization of trans people, the delegitimization of cultural institutions regarded as liberal: elite universities, Hollywood, corporations that have DEI initiatives, stores that sell pro-LGBTQ merchandise.

Maddow said:
I mean, right now what we are very fast becoming is one party on one side and just a guy on the other.
But the GOP isn't just "one guy." It's Greg Abbott putting immigrants on buses to blue cities and defying the federal government on control of the border. It's state officials who want to make it illegal to get in your own car and transport your own granddaughter across a state line so she can have an abortion if she's been raped. It's Charlie Kirk and Chris Rufo and Chaya Raichik. It's Rupert Murdoch and his band of propagandists. And it's hundreds of federal judges, most of whom will be guilty of misrule long after Trump is in the grave.

Maddow said this last night:
... if we are going to stay a democracy with a two-party system, there do need to be two parties of some kind or we’re not that kind of system anymore. We’re going to have to develop into something else.
Oh please, not this again.

America already has two reasonable political parties. They're both called the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party extends from right-center to (somewhat) left, and debates many issues intramurally. We have the broad Democratic Party and we also have an unreasonable party, the GOP, that exists only to accrue power for itself so it can reduces taxes and regulations on the rich, and ultimately eviscerate the twentieth-century social safety net -- a goal it could somehow achieve in the next four years.

If the GOP succeeds in imposing its radical agenda on America -- which could really happen -- remember that it did so even though, according to Rachel Maddow and Steve Benen, it doesn't actually exist anymore.

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