Thursday, February 08, 2024


In The Atlantic, David Graham writes about a very bad day for Republicans:
... each bit of Tuesday’s chaos had Trump’s fingerprints all over it—offering a partial preview of what life will be like if Trump is reelected in November.

The most surprising fiasco was in the House, where a vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas unexpectedly failed....

The House also failed to pass a bill with aid to Israel, which garnered a majority but needed two-thirds of the chamber. A coalition of Democrats and hard-right Republicans sank the bill.

Underlying the drama was a banal truth: Speaker Mike Johnson doesn’t have a grip on his caucus. Maybe no one could manage such a thin majority, but his task will be even harder after yesterday’s failure
And in the Senate, a bill linking right-wing immigration policy to Ukraine aid failed.
It was already on life support by the time it emerged: Trump made clear that he opposed the bill, because he and other Republicans didn’t want to give Biden a win on the border so close to the election. Johnson forecast the bill’s demise in the House, and it promptly gave up the ghost in the Senate as well.... The GOP had fallen into its own trap.
You all know that I'm pessimistic about the 2024 election. It might surprise you that I'm slightly more optimistic than most of you about what will happen to America if Trump wins.

A lot depends on the composition of Congress. Democrats have a one-seat advantage in the Senate and have to defend seats in eight red or purple states (Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin), while Republicans are defending seats in red states only, so holding the Senate will be extremely difficult for Democrats. But they can win back the House, or at least hold Republicans to a single-digit advantage, which is what's currently making life so difficult for Speaker Johnson.

What gives me hope is that there's still a vestigial not-insane bloc in the congressional GOP, and maybe the most insane proposals from a second Trump administration will fail to win approval because of these not-insaners -- or maybe the GOP's lack of interest in learning how to govern will lead to struggles when the proposed governing principles are Trump-level crazy. Maybe, in the Senate, insane appointees (Mike Flynn? Alina Habba?) will fail to win majority support, because Republicans are more skilled at getting themselves on Fox News than they are at counting votes.

This dovetails with my belief that Trump himself might not be fully on board with the Heritage Foundation's Project 2025 and other mad plans that have been cooked up by his allies. Trump absolutely will politicize the Justice Department if he wins -- but he'll do it primarily because he wants to end his own legal troubles and because he wants to punish enemies, not because he cares whether the GOP has the ability to crush political opposition in the long term. I think he'll care about other aspects of the Project 2025 agenda only to the extent that the agenda serves his interests and hurts the people he hates immediately. He wants to make immigrants and homeless people suffer right now, but I don't think he cares whether it's structurally impossible for a Democrat to win a presidential election once he's out of office.

And as I said a few months ago, I think it's possible that the résumé-gatherers of Project 2025 are recruiting people who may have impeccable wingnut ideological credentials but also have no real job skills, which is what the Bush administration did when it took charge of Iraq after overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Trump's administration might be staffed with a lot of pink-cheeked 22-year-old right-wing boys who hate abortion and love the flat tax but have no idea how to get the lights turned on.

Obviously, I'm worried that Trump and a Republican Congress might actually carry out these plans. The result would be awful, and possibly irreversible. But Trump's narcissism and the congressional GOP's incompetence give me hope. Still, it would be much better to beat the SOB in November.

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