“Do You Think Trump Was a Danger to Democracy?”
Plus: Schumer’s political malpractice.
I apologize for calling your attention, once again, to something that you are probably trying to wrap in denial. But this is worth a moment of your time. Here is Trump’s former secretary of defense:
Brett Baier: Do you think Donald Trump was a threat to democracy?
Mark Esper: I think that given the events of January 6th, given how he has undermined the election results, he incited people to come to D.C., stirred them that morning, and failed to call them off. To me, that threatens our democracy.
Baier: So, yes?
Esper: What else can you conclude, Bret?
There’s a lot more. Firing missiles at Mexico, shooting protesters, the possibility that Trump would use the military to stay in office, threats to attack Iran. . .
I know we have become jaded and numb about all of this. But this is former SecDEF, who told the New York Times a few days ago that Trump is an “unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service.”
But, on a daily basis, we are reminded that a Trump Presidency 2.0 is a very real — if not likely — scenario. This doesn’t help:
So, at the risk of reminding you of things you may have memory-holed, Esper joins a loooong line of former Trump cabinet members and aides who have issued similar (belated) warnings. Back in March, my colleague Amanda Carpenter put together a roundup of All the President’s Men who saw Trump’s presidency up close and broke with him. Even a partial list (that doesn’t include his vice president or his disingenuous attorney general) is . . . remarkable.
two (!) secretaries of defense
a secretary of state
two (!) chiefs of staff
two (!) national security advisors
a secretary of the Navy
a communications director
a press secretary
cabinet members, including the secretary of transportation
Former Trump Defense Secretary James Mattis: “When I was basically directed to do something that I thought went beyond stupid to felony stupid, strategically jeopardizing our place in the world and everything else, that’s when I quit.”
Former Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: NBC News reported Tillerson called Trump a “moron” after a July 2017 meeting, a charge Tillerson has never denied. In an interview with Foreign Policy conducted before the January 6 riot, Tillerson said:
“His understanding of global events, his understanding of global history, his understanding of U.S. history was really limited. It’s really hard to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t even understand the concept for why we’re talking about this…We’re in a worse place today than we were before he came in, and I didn’t think that was possible.”
Former Chief of Staff John Kelly: The retired four-star Maine general who served as Trump’s second Chief of Staff. On Jan. 7, 2021, Kelly said he supported using the Twenty-fifth Amendment to remove Trump from office. Kelly said:
“I think that the Cabinet should meet and have a discussion. I don't think that it'll happen, but I think the Cabinet should meet and discuss this because the behavior yesterday and in the weeks and months before that has just been outrageous from the President. . . . What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.”
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton:"Do you believe if Trump runs again and he's in the White House, he wins, would he be a threat to U.S. national security?" "Yes," says John Bolton, former national security advisor to Trump.
Trump Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger: Resigned as the Jan. 6th attack was underway. “The events of that day, January 6, were for me a red line. Decided that it was time to go, and I resigned that afternoon,” he said in an interview.
…Trump and Trumpism remain firmly in the ascendant. In Ohio, in a crucial Senate primary, Trump’s endorsement of JD Vance proved decisive. In Pennsylvania, his support for Mehmet Oz may prove vital too….
Most Republicans remain unmoved. Esper is only an author. Trump spearheads a movement.
Bonus: Unlike Bill Barr, Esper said this morning that he would not vote for Trump again:
The unexpected can happen.
This is going to be a problem.
In a 2021 paper published in American Political Science Review, political scientists David C. Barker, Ryan Detamble and Morgan Marietta looked at Republicans’ growing distrust of scientists and other experts. Their research shows that partly due to the education divide — i.e., college graduates prefer the Democratic Party, and white people without a college degree prefer the Republican Party — the divide between those who are pro-intellectualism and those who are anti-intellectualism is more entrenched in party politics.
The GOP split on abortion
Republicans are deeply split on their abortion strategy, with top officials pushing restraint, even silence, while activist GOP candidates demand an all-out campaign for a national ban and harsher penalties…
And here’s the key insight into how this will likely play out:
The takeaway ... One thing is certain about modern politics: Rarely does moderation or restraint prevail — especially on cultural, religious or identity issues. In fact, one truism of modern conservatism is: The more the establishment pushes something, the more the base recoils.
To the delight of Republican senators, Schumer plans to make Democratic senators vote on abortion legislation that is both unpopular—it would legalize abortions through all nine months of pregnancy, a position most Americans disapprove of—and hopeless, since it does not have the votes to pass.
Here’s a tip: If you are going to force everyone to take a meaningless messaging vote for public-relations purposes, consider choosing a bill that hurts the other party’s popularity, not your own!
1. Chuck Schumer Is On the Cusp of Butt-Fumbling the Biden Agenda
When it comes right down to it, I find it hard to to see the current legislative logjam as anything but a monumental failure on the part of Chuck Schumer and Democratic leadership . . . with a fail assist given out to the White House for chilling in the back seat while their Build Back Bettermobile veers over the median and into oncoming traffic.
2. Sick Russian Propagandists Try to Redefine “Nazi” and “Anti-Semitism”
The pathetic “Victory Day parades” yesterday in partly occupied Mariupol and several occupied Ukrainian cities, where enormous ribbons were apparently meant to make up for the lack of crowds, could be seen as symbolic of the debacle that the war in Ukraine has been for Russia’s image.
To make it worse, the Russian celebration of the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany—repurposed this year as cheerleading for war against Ukraine—came right on the heels of a particularly ugly controversy sparked by the Kremlin’s ongoing, self-serving redefinition of Nazism and rewriting of World War II history.
As this latest episode makes clear, the Kremlin propaganda narrative not only labels any adversary of the Russian imperial project as “Nazi” but minimizes actual Nazi anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. In this sense, it is a bizarre revival of the Soviet tradition of Jewish erasure from World War II discourse—only much more strident and unabashed.
3. How Trump Helped Transform Nebraska Into a Toxic Political Wasteland
LINCOLN, Neb. — In the old days, Charles W. Herbster, a cattle baron and bull semen tycoon who used his fortune and influence to get into Donald Trump’s good graces, almost certainly would have been forced to pull out of Nebraska’s Republican primary for governor by now. In recent weeks, eight women, including a state senator, have come forward to allege that Mr. Herbster groped them at various Republican events or at beauty pageants at which he was a judge.
But this is post-shame, post-“Access Hollywood” America, so Mr. Trump traveled to Nebraska last week for a rally at the I-80 Speedway between Lincoln and Omaha to show his continued support for Mr. Herbster. “He is innocent of these despicable charges,” Mr. Trump said.
My mob vs. your mob