She’s Angry, Really Angry, and Should Be

Jennifer Rubin worked as a lawyer before joining The Washington Post as a columnist. Before that, she mainly wrote for right-wing publications. Rubin was once called “hard-right”. She’s certainly been one of their conservative writers. But she’s given up on the Grim Old Party. From her latest:

“Today’s GOP in a nutshell: Jaw-dropping incompetence and grotesque disrespect for others”

Two defining features of the Republican Party were on display Thursday. Together, they are proof that the flaws of today’s GOP are not limited to President Txxxx and reason enough to send the party in its current manifestation into the political wilderness.

The first, and most important, feature is the party’s jaw-dropping incompetence. We not only have Txxxx’s failure to address the coronavirus pandemic (as well as dozens of other examples ranging from a wall you can saw through to a government shutdown), but also the incapacity of the Republican-controlled Senate to do its job.

The Post reports: “Senate Republicans killed President Txxxx’s payroll tax cut proposal on Thursday but failed to reach agreement with the White House on a broader coronavirus relief bill.” That, in turn, sent lawmakers into “a frantic scramble with competing paths forward . . . and the entire effort appeared to teeter chaotically on the brink of failure.” They have had more than two months to consider a plan following the House’s swift passage of the Heroes Act. They have heard from Txxxx-appointed Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell, who urged the Senate to put together a substantial relief package. It still doesn’t have its act together. (Can you imagine if they invalidated the Affordable Care Act and were charged with finding a replacement?)

At a joint news conference on Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could only gape in amazement at Republicans’ ineptitude. “Now that Senate Republicans have finally woken up to the calamity in our country, they have been so divided, so disorganized, so unprepared that they have struggled to even draft a partisan proposal within their own conference,” Schumer said. “They can’t come together. Even after all this time, it appears the Republican legislative response to [Covid-19] is un-unified, unserious, unsatisfactory.” He added, “The Republican disarray and dithering has potentially serious deadly consequences for tens of millions of Americans. 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment last week, the first time the number rose since March.”

Pelosi, arguably the most competent legislator of the last 20 years, barely controlled her disdain for Republicans’ utter failure. She declared: “They don’t believe in science. They don’t believe in governance. . . . It is another example of their dereliction of duty.” Asked whether she had gotten a phone call or a piece of paper from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, she tersely replied, “No.”

Understand that this is not a matter of coming up with a proposal acceptable to Democrats. Republicans do not even know what they want. More than six months into the crisis, the slothful Senate seems ready to leave for the weekend. . . . If they cannot perform their jobs, they should turn over the reins to Democrats.

The second defining feature of today’s Republicans is their grotesque disrespect for their fellow Americans, with a deep strain of misogyny. We have become so accustomed to Txxxx’s ugliness that we sometimes ignore outbursts from other Republicans. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not about to let that happen on Thursday.

She took to the floor to rebut Rep. Ted Yoho for his non-apology over his verbal assault on her earlier in the week, during which he reportedly called Ocasio-Cortez a “f—ing b—h” . . . Had Yoho made an equivalent statement concerning an African American male colleague, leadership would have been under pressure to condemn him, strip him of privileges (as was the case in handling remarks made by Rep. Steve King of Iowa) or even boot him from the House. With a woman as the victim, they were prepared to do exactly nothing.

Ocasio-Cortez elegantly skewered not only Yoho but the men who silently stand by after such displays. “This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural,” she said. “It is a culture of . . . impunity, of accepting of violence and violent language against women, and an entire structure of power that supports that” . . . She added: “Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up, as we all are bound to do, he tries his best and does apologize.”

Instead, today’s Republican Party rewards displays of insensitivity, disrespect, meanness and bigotry as a sign one will not be contained by “elites” or “political correctness.” It tolerates support for the Confederate flag and white nationalism. It ignores protesters screaming in the faces of health-care workers to protest one’s right to go mask-less, thereby endangering others. The culture of bullying and the disdain for others is not an incidental part of the GOP; it is central to its identity.

A party that disdains government should not run for office. A party that celebrates rudeness, incivility, meanness and bigotry should be shunned. Rehabilitation for the GOP? It’s impossible to imagine, given its cast of characters.

Unquote.

Recent polls show Biden beating Txxxx in important states the maniac won in 2016:

Florida: Biden 51%, T 38%
Michigan: Biden 49%, T 40%
Pennsylvania: Biden 50%, T 39%

Is it any wonder?

This Won’t Be Easy, But It Should Be

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post:

Voters surely can change the political culture they deplore. They can turn out to vote, demand respectful and reasonable lawmaking, eschew bullies and bigots, and adhere to the ethical standards they now bemoan are declining. Trump voters or Roy Moore voters who think that we are more divided and that ethical standards are lower should look in the mirror.

… in a democracy, ultimately the people do control the system. By improved citizenship — which includes tuning out the right-wing propaganda machine that works in tandem with Trump (as it did in dredging up the phony uranium scandal to divert attention from purported charges to be filed as early as Monday); rejecting pols who are morally and intellectually unfit for office; working across the aisle with people of good will; and defending democratic norms — Americans can reclaim their democracy.

Whither the Grand Old Party?

Jennifer Rubin writes a blog for The Washington Post called Right Turn. It’s advertised as “Rubin’s take from a conservative perspective”. But in recent months she’s been churning out articles with titles like today’s “Americans as a Whole Haven’t Lost Their Minds, But the GOP Has”. That makes perfect sense, of course, because the Grand Old Party is no longer “conservative” in the traditional sense. It’s become the party of radical reactionaries and know-nothings.

Citing an opinion poll that contains bad news for the Republicans, she writes:

Voters say 47 – 38 percent, including 44 – 32 percent among independent voters, that they would like to see Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 Congressional elections.

Americans, it turns out:

  • Are not bamboozled by his NFL and flag histrionics;
  • Do not think it’s all the media’s fault;
  • Know he is not making America great (stressed and anxious maybe, but not great);
  • Have figured out he’s botching most policy matters — and is a bad person to boot; and
  • Don’t buy into his race-baiting act.

Americans are neither brain-dead nor moral vagrants. In voting for him many probably hated Hillary Clinton more, engaged in wishful thinking about Trump and/or figured incorrectly a rich guy and his friends must know how to do things. But they do not like him now, and that speaks very well of the American people.

The bad news is Republicans overwhelmingly like him, his policies, his distractions, his character, his racial appeals, etc. Among Republicans 79 percent approve of his performance, 79 percent think he is honest (!), 85 percent think he cares about ordinary Americans, 62 percent think he is level-headed (!!) and perhaps worst of all, 78 percent think he shares their values.

Now, it’s possible that having voted for him these Republicans don’t want to admit he is, as LeBron James eloquently put it, a bum. But it’s also possible that a declining share of voters identify as Republicans but that those who do, by and large, live in a Fox News-created political universe in which Trump is just the best. They refuse to see Trump as a bigot or an incompetent narcissist. They believe what he tells them about immigrants, the world and the “liberal elites.”

The question that many #NeverTrump Republicans or now former Republicans face is whether that GOP base has become so divorced from their own world view that they cannot consider themselves Republicans any longer. To be a Republican these days is to be at the very least an apologist for Trump and at the worst a cultist. Maybe these Trump fans were always there in the party, but now they are the dominant voice…. [Note: Crazy right-wingers, now known as “Trump fans”, have indeed always been there.]

It doesn’t seem possible that logic or experience will change the minds of the 75 percent to 80 percent of the GOP who remain in Trump’s quarter…

Rubin concludes that “distressed Republicans and ex-Republicans” have three options, because “the GOP that was, is no longer”:

(1) “Recruit new non-Trumpkins to the GOP (but which Americans would want to join?!) to out-vote Trump’s base” 

(2) “Start a new center-right party (with an invitation out to moderate Democrats)” 

(3) “Set up shop across the aisle as [conservative] Democrats”.

Option (1) is clearly a non-starter, so it’s not worth thinking about. Option (2) could happen if a conservative billionaire or two gave up on the Republican Party and made a serious, highly-publicized effort to recruit candidates and get them on ballots nationwide, although finding a significant number of Republican politicians with the courage to suddenly leave their party sounds highly unlikely.

That leaves option (3). Rubin thinks this would depend on “the direction the Democrats take (will it be the party of Sen. Bernie Sanders or the party of Truman/JFK/Bill Clinton — policy-wise, that is)”. If the Democratic Party moves further to the left, it will make it more difficult for Republicans and ex-Republicans to switch. On the other hand, if conservatives move to the Democratic Party in serious numbers, the party won’t move to the left. It will stay where it is or move to the right. 

In the meantime, Democrats continue to do well in special elections at the state level. Maybe some Republican voters are already switching:

Democrats on Tuesday flipped two seats in special state elections in Florida and New Hampshire.

Earlier this month, Democrats flipped State House seats in New Hampshire and Oklahoma, replacing Republicans in two districts ahead of the 2018 midterm elections….

Since Trump’s election, Democrats have flipped eight GOP-held seats at the state level, and Republicans have yet to flip a seat in 27 special elections.

These results suggest that the Democrats may make even more significant progress in statewide legislative races in Virginia and New Jersey in November, less than six weeks from now.

The Feel Good Phenomenon Known as DT

Jennifer Rubin graduated first in her class at U.C. Berkeley’s law school. After working as a lawyer for 20 years, she began writing political commentary for well-known right-wing magazines. Now she writes The Washington Post‘s “Right Turn” blog.

The good news is that she thinks DT is a disaster.

Yesterday, she published two pieces that especially impressed me. The first, “This Is Not a Normal President”, reviews the ways in which DT seriously screwed up. It concludes:

During the first 100 days [of DT’s administration], the Republic has survived, but the GOP [i.e. the Republican Party], permanently we think, has been morally compromised and intellectually corrupted, just as many of us warned. “Everything Trump touches dies,” GOP consultant Rick Wilson is fond of saying. Trump’s victims now include a respectable Republican Party.

The second was “[DT] Suspends Disbelief – On Most Everything” . It’s one of the best explanations I’ve read of why many supposedly competent voters voted for the Orange Menace:

The country is … divided … between those who want politics to tend to their emotional needs (pride, recognition, resentment) and those who want politics to solve problems while they take care of their self-esteem and emotional well-being in other ways. Ironically, Republicans who for decades accused the left of playing to emotions rather than dealing with cold, hard facts now eschew objective reality in favor of feelings….

Trump fans think he is winning because he yells at the press, vilifies cities run by Democrats, denies climate change and demonizes immigrants. He talks and acts like they wish they could — demeaning women, stereotyping minorities, telling off experts…. It does not matter to Trump fans if the executive orders are struck down or are mere window dressing (authorizing an agency to study something it already has the power to study). He makes them feel as if they’re winning, as if they are now more important than the experts with the facts and the courts with the laws on their side. Trump fans, the quintessential Fox News viewers, revel in the know-nothingism of a hero who reflects their anger, grievances, frustration and, yes, prejudice.

It will only take a few minutes to read the whole thing. I highly recommend reading it if you still occasionally ask yourself “who the hell are these people?”

On a related topic, I had one of those thoughts today that feel like an important insight even though they’re blindingly obvious. It came to me after watching today’s Hillary Clinton interview. At one point, she referred to some of the promises DT made during the campaign. And it occurred to me that all politicians make promises, but most voters are relatively cynical about those promises being kept. We’ve heard their promises before and we know it’s hard for politicians to get anything important done. Presidents, for example, aren’t dictators who can simply issue commands (“Make it so”). 

But DT wasn’t (and isn’t) anywhere near being a typical politician. He could make a ton of big promises, one after the other, and lots of voters thought, well, he’s not a politician, he’s different, maybe he really can do these big things he’s promising. I mean, maybe he can renegotiate all these treaties and make health insurance cheaper and bring back coal mining. He says only he can fix it! If a regular politician said that, it would sound ridiculous. But this guy is so strange, maybe he really can do what he says. Let’s give him a chance!

Of course, most of us saw through him. It was easy. But enough hopeful people in a few Midwestern states were willing to give him a chance. Now we’re paying the price for their ignorance and blinkered optimism.