"A Concierge at a Rock Star Hotel"
Plus: A Wisconsin poll tests the appeal of centrism
ICYMI: David Frum and I covered a lot of ground in Tuesday’s podcast — from nuclear “Armageddon” and Right-wing pro-Putinism to Kevin McCarthy.
The whole thing is worth your time, but this bit about the wanna-be Speaker of the House is *chef’s kiss*.
David Frum: There needs to be kind of like an anti-Robert Caro book about him. So, Robert Caro wrote all these volumes about how people can parlay things that never seem to have power — into power. You know, you're the parks commissioner of New York City, you're the Senate Majority Leader at a time when that's like one of the worst jobs in American politics. And people take these plays, they discover potentiality for power, and they build power.
OK, now we need a book about how you can be leader of the number two party in the House of Representatives, and soon-to-be Speaker of the House of Representatives and be an absolute doormat…
Frum: “[McCarthy] thinks the job to be the Speaker of the House is a little bit like being a concierge at some rock star hotel, where people come downstairs at all hours and they make crazy demands, and you say, ‘Yes, sir, right away, sir. We'll have the dim sum and cocaine to your room in 15 minutes, sir.’
Like, you're going to be Speaker of the House— Trump should be scared of him. You know, he can impeach people, he can set budgets, he can decide what legislation comes. He's going to be potentially the one of most powerful men in Washington — and potentially thus one of the most powerful men in the world. And he's cringing and sniffling.”
You can listen to my whole conversation with Frum here.
Speaking of the geldings of the Trump Era, Mona Charen and I also discussed the MAGA right’s faux masculinity, their admiration for Putin's "Christian" war crimes, and Kevin McCarthy's fury at being outed for doing the right thing -- one time. Bulwark + members can listen here.
Make sure you read Mona’s follow-up column here: “Tim Ryan’s Alpha Maneuver.”
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The sweet spot of centrism
As readers of Morning Shots know, for years now Ruy Teixeira has been making the case that Democrats need to move to the center, because it is the “center of gravity of American public opinion.”
Instead of pursuing broadly popular themes, Teixeira complains, the party’s elites — in “Democratic-adjacent nonprofits, media and academic institutions” — have embraced a variety of cultural issues that “are typically embraced by only a small percentage of voters overall and are not generally majoritarian even within the Democratic party itself.”
But what is the “center of gravity”?
Earlier this year, Teixeira laid out what he described as “views and values, which are clearly at odds with causes embraced by a substantial sector of party activists and intellectual supporters.”
And, as it turns out, his argument was tested in a remarkable poll in Wisconsin.
The survey by Public Policy Polling was conducted in early May, and included the responses of 675 GOP and 746 likely Dem primary voters.
Drawing on a column Teixeira wrote in March, the pollsters tested Teixeira’s centrist thesis. Here were the questions and the (highly revealing) responses:
“Equality of opportunity is a fundamental American principle; equality of outcome is not.”
66% of Wisconsin Democrats and 73% of state Republican voters agreed with this principle.
ON PATRIOTISM: “America is not perfect, but it is good to be patriotic and proud of the country.”
71% of Democrats and 93% of Republicans agreed.
ON RACISM: “Discrimination and racism are bad, but they are not the cause of all disparities in American society.”
62%, of Democrats agreed, as did 91% of Republicans.
“No one is completely without bias but calling all white people racists who benefit from white privilege and American society a white supremacist society is not right or fair.”
55% of Democrats agreed, as did 87% of Republicans.
“America benefits from the presence of immigrants, and no immigrant — even if illegal — should be mistreated. But border security is still important, as is an enforceable system that fairly decides who can enter the country.”
74% (!) of Democrats and 89% of Republicans agreed.
“Police misconduct and brutality against people of any race is wrong, and we need to reform police conduct and recruitment. More and better policing is needed for public safety, and that cannot be provided by ‘defunding the police.’”
69% (!) of Democrats and 91% of Republicans agreed.
ON GENDER IDENTITY
“There are underlying differences between men and women, but discrimination on the basis of gender is wrong.”
91% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats agreed.
“There are basically two genders, but people who want to live as a gender different from their biological sex should have that right and not be discriminated against. However, there are issues around child consent to transitioning and participation in women’s sports that are complicated and not settled.”
Both Democrats (65%) and Republicans (76%), agreed with this statement.
“Racial achievement gaps are bad and we should seek to close them. However, they are not due just to racism, and standards of high achievement should be maintained for people of all races,”
64% of Democrats and 91% of Republicans agree.
ON FREE SPEECH:
“Language policing has gone too far. By and large, people should be able to express their views without fear of sanction by employer, school, institution or government. Good faith should be assumed, not bad faith.”
61% of Democrats agreed as did 91% of Republicans.
(The same set of statements was tested in Massachusetts and generated quite similar results.)
Teixeira notes that the statements above are too easy to agree with, because they are just common sense. “But if it’s just common sense,” he asked, “why do so many Democrats have trouble saying these things?”
Anyone see a pattern here?
A new Morning Consult analysis finds that the nation’s three most popular governors are all Republicans from deeply blue states.
What, you ask, do they have in common?
All three won and served in Democratic strongholds.
All three rejected Trump and Trumpism.
All three are now pretty much pariahs in the national GOP (and none of them would ever be invited to CPAC).
Kinzinger reaches across the aisle. Again.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the most prominent Republican critics of former President Donald Trump in Congress, is rolling out a bipartisan series of midterm endorsements Tuesday, including a handful of Democrats seeking to become their states’ top election officials.
Kinzinger (R-Ill.) endorsed four Democratic secretary of state candidates: incumbents Steve Simon of Minnesota and Jocelyn Benson of Michigan, along with Arizona’s Adrian Fontes and Nevada’s Cisco Aguilar, both of whom are running for open seats. Kinzinger’s endorsements, shared first with POLITICO, also include Democrat Josh Shapiro’s campaign for governor of Pennsylvania, where he would appoint the secretary of state if he wins.
His full list of endorsements (so far):
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, for U.S. Senator from Alaska (R)
Evan McMullin, for U.S. Senator from Utah (I)
Josh Shapiro, for Governor of Pennsylvania (D)
Katie Hobbs, for Governor of Arizona (D)
Brad Raffensperger, for Georgia Secretary of State (R)
Adrian Fontes, for Arizona Secretary of State candidate (D)
Cisco Aguilar, for Nevada Secretary of State (D)
Steve Simon, for Minnesota Secretary of State (D)
Jocelyn Benson, for Michigan Secretary of State (D)
Clint Smith, candidate for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District (I)
Larry Lazor, for Connecticut's 1st Congressional District (R)
Thomas Knecht, for State Representative in Minnesota HD49B (R)
1. Kari Lake’s ‘Perfect Answer on Abortion’
In today’s Bulwark, Bill Lueders asks whether the GOP candidate for Arizona governor has really solved the party’s problem of how to talk about the future of abortion? (Spoiler alert: No.)
According to the email I received, Lake’s perfect answer came in response to “a hostile question on abortion from a reporter.” It links to a YouTube clip of a campaign event October 2 at the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic Community Center in Phoenix. Here is the question that was asked: “Abortion is effectively banned in the state right now. Tell me, is that something that you support?” (The ruling blocking enforcement of the 1901 near-total ban was handed down five days later.)
Okay, first of all: How is that a “hostile question”? Is this not a reasonable thing for a reporter to ask a candidate for governor in a state where reproductive rights were at the time mostly repealed? Should she have said “please”?
2. Iranians Want Democracy. Who Are We to Say No?
Shay Khatiri, in this morning’s Bulwark:
In the American Conservative, Sohrab Ahmari asks a question that many Iranians have asked for decades, especially during the recent protests: If the clerics go, who will take their place? “Who would you have rule us?” he asks. “What principle of unity and continuity do you propose? ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’? LGBTQIA+ Pride? An empty flag, erasing 2,500 years of history?” It’s interesting that Ahmari, an American citizen, refers to Iranians as “us,” because he nowhere entertains the idea that Iranians might choose their own future at the ballot box.
3. Supreme Court to Hear Cases on Content Policing
In Gonzalez, the justices will consider whether internet platforms have any legal responsibility for spreading false or violent content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. (In another case, Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh, the Court will relatedly consider whether internet service providers can be liable for aiding terrorists under a criminal statute.) Critics of unfettered Section 230 immunity run the gamut—from Trump himself, who has complained about censorship of conservative voices, to more left-leaning sources who argue for legal incentives on providers to screen users and content for lies and extremists. From the providers’ standpoint, if the Court confines immunity in Gonzalez, the legal risks and complexities of managing content is daunting. For his part, Joe Biden said during the 2020 campaign that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg “should be submitted to civil liability and his company to civil liability.”
Madison goes AWOL.
I had some thoughts.
“Equality of opportunity is a fundamental American principle; equality of outcome is not.”
Only we don't have "equality of opportunity" in America, we have a class system and a faux-meritocracy that only affords opportunity to people who come from wealthy enough parents to buy their kid's way through the gatekeepers of the faux-meritocracy (university admissions offices and the private prep schools before them).
It's like making a statement that isn't real in fact and yet 2/3rds or more of respondents still treat it as such. Might as well say that "equality under the rule of law is a fundamental principle." Yes, it sounds nice and all in principle, but in practice it never holds up. As usual, this country (and Wisconsinites among them) ignores the problems it is pretending don't exist, when in fact, they do. No wonder these problems never get fixed when we like to pretend they don't exist.
Except you guys keep forgetting that one of the two political parties has gone bat shit crazy and has taken 44% of the American population with it. Sure it is great that a large number of Republicans and Democrats can agree on boilerplate ideals that do not mean anything in the real world. You act as if this were 1978 and we were talking reasonable people running on both sides of the aisle. We aren't and spouting this nonsense doesn't do anything to help fix the problems we have.
I have always agreed with you that Democrats are lousy at laying out what they really believe, and they cede that realm to the Republicans. The Democrats have been staying very close to center left for the last two years, but they seem to get no credit at all for NOT bending to the radical side of their party.
The Republicans on the other hand, have gone all in on supporting the radical side of their party. The saddest thing of all, is that center Democrats are willing to speak out against things that do not make sense, but there are maybe three Republicans willing to speak out against the election lies, and none are willing to speak out against the BS policies that other Republicans put on the table.