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My Kevin Finally Gets It Right
A moment of post-Tucker sanity?
Happy Tuesday, and welcome to this even-a-blind-squirrel-finds-a-nut edition of Morning Shots.
Apparently, we are closer to the brink that we thought. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning that we only have until June 1 to raise the debt limit and avoid a catastrophic default.
Politico notes: “The new calculation drastically raised the stakes of the ongoing standoff over the nation’s debt limit, turning what officials expected would be a monthslong political fight into a brutal four-week brawl with the fate of the U.S. economy on the line.”
What could go wrong?
At the moment there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of actual negotiations going on, although there are meetings scheduled. Joe Biden says he’s not budging on his terms, and just last week Kevin McCarthy managed to pass a DOA messaging bill that I compared yesterday to pulling a two-headed radioactive rabbit out of a hat.
Making matters worse: Because My Kevin’s speakership is held hostage by the Crazy Caucus, there’s no reason to think that he can deliver the votes for any compromise that he might negotiate.
So bad things might really happen this time.
With the nation careening toward a debt crisis, this may seem like a very odd time to be praising McCarthy. But sometimes even the worst people will say the right things, and damn he was good in Jerusalem yesterday.
"We know that you don't support the unlimited and uncontrolled supplies of weaponry and aid to Ukraine," the reporter, who introduced himself as part of Russian state-sponsored media outlet RIA Novosti, asked McCarthy. "So, can you comment: Is it possible in the near future [that] the U.S. policy regarding sending weaponry to Ukraine will change?"
“Did he say I don’t support aid to Ukraine? No. I vote for aid for Ukraine,” McCarthy said. “I support aid for Ukraine.”
Then McCarthy fired this shot:
“I do not support what your country has done to Ukraine. I do not support your killing of the children, either,” he told the reporter, according to a video of the exchange.
“And I think for one standpoint, you should pull out, and I don’t think it’s right, and we will continue to support because the rest of the world sees it just as it is.”
Well done. And welcome.
“As a frequent critic of Kevin McCarthy, I just want to say that was amazing,” Mika Brzezinski said on Morning Joe. “Also, much needed in terms of how some Republicans were very carefully parsing their words about aid to Ukraine, and that’s saying it mildly. This was resounding and in an incredible situation, too.”
Let’s see whether McCarthy’s implicit repudiation of the GOP Surrender Caucus holds after he gets home and MTG & Co. remind him who’s boss.
In the meantime, feel free to speculate. Did McCarthy take a new tone because:
He had a flash of conscience.
He had a genuine change of heart.
He no longer has to worry about being dragged by pro-Putin shill Tucker Carlson.
Leave your comments below.
BONUS: I’m sure this had nothing to do with it, right? Right? “The Murdochs' Ukraine connection.” Semafor’s scoop:
Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch held a previously unreported call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this spring in which the two discussed the war and the anniversary of the deaths of Fox News journalists last March. The Ukrainian president had a similar conversation with Lachlan Murdoch on March 15, which Zelenskyy noted in a little-noticed aside during a national broadcast last month.
The conversations came weeks before the Murdochs fired their biggest star and most outspoken critic of American support for Ukraine, Tucker Carlson. Senior Ukrainian officials had made their objections to Carlson’s coverage known to Fox executives, but Zelenskyy did not raise it on the calls with the Murdochs, according to one person familiar with the details of the calls.
Tim and Charlie. Live in NYC.
There just a few tickets left for our Thursday, May 18 event in NYC.
We open with an in-person episode of my Friday podcast with NYT bestselling author Tim Miller — then JVL and Sarah take over with special guest, Molly Jong-Fast.
Plan to stick around after the program to mix and mingle with fellow members and Bulwark staff.
Tickets are on sale now for this live event at Peter Norton Symphony Space - 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York, New York.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show kicks off at 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Bring three friends and your ticket is on us. Details… tickets here… See you soon!
The GOP, circa 2023
Hello darkness, my old friend.
To the extent the Republican primary is a contest at all right now, it looks like it's one between Donald Trump and a sentiment one might call "Trump fatigue."
And Trump is winning that matchup easily.
Here's why: MAGA-sounding ideas are widely held in the Republican electorate, an environment that plays heavily to Trump's advantage.
There's big demand for a candidate who says Trump won in 2020, who challenges woke ideas, who doesn't criticize Trump and, for good measure, makes liberals angry. Trump leads in all of these areas.
Meanwhile there are some GOPers who say they're "exhausted" by Trump, and that he's too controversial, but they are greatly outnumbered today.
You and me brother. You and me.
Stable genius update
It was March and former president Donald Trump was aboard his plane with a gaggle of reporters following a campaign rally in Waco, Texas. He started off in good spirits. But then a line of questioning from NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard, who suggested that Trump had in recent days seemed “frustrated” by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s investigation, began irritating the former president.
“Don’t ask me any more questions,” Trump said. About 10 minutes later, as Hillyard continued to ask about the investigation, Trump snapped, grabbing the reporter’s two phones and chucking them to the side, according to a source familiar with the matter.
“Get him out of here,” Trump told his aides, according to a recording obtained by Vanity Fair.
1. The Republicans’ To-Do List
Republicans are often accused of not having a clear sense of direction. Not true: They have lots of them. Day by day, week by week, the party faithful are churning out a slew of ideas. They are just not necessarily (or even frequently) good ones. Let’s look at some recent examples of things the party faithful want to do:
Save the nation from imaginary doom
On the day last week that President Joe Biden announced he was running for reelection in 2024, the Republican National Committee released an artificial intelligence–generated video that was considerably more artificial than intelligent. It depicted a series of catastrophes that have not happened during Biden’s first term but very well might if he ends up being re-elected.
An “emboldened” China invades Taiwan. The economy goes into “freefall as 500 regional banks have shuttered their doors.” Border agents are “overrun by a surge of 80,000 illegals” all at once. Skyrocketing crime and the fentanyl crisis (as represented by a shirtless thug with “M-13” tattooed on his forehead, as you so often see) leads to the city of San Francisco being “closed.” “It feels like the train is coming off the tracks,” the narrator intones. Actually, they’re called streetcars.
Fight the Real Enemy: Disney
Ron DeSantis has met the enemy and he is Mickey Mouse. The Florida governor and undeclared presidential aspirant is going all out to kneecap one of his state’s largest employers and the generator of tens of billions of dollars in economic impact per year. He has overtly sought to punish the company for opposing his culture-warrior crackdown on exposing school kids to the idea that some people are gay.
2. Dumb Leaks and Dumb Luck
Gabriel Schoenfeld writes in today’s Bulwark: Many famous leakers of military and governmental secrets have acted on principle. The alleged Discord leaker, Jack Teixeira, is not among them.
According to the late physicist Stephen Hawking, whom no one ever accused of being a dunce, our past is mostly “the history of stupidity.” That may or may not be a true claim. But the actions of Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guardsman who allegedly leaked a stupendous array of American governmental and military secrets, would appear to corroborate Hawking’s judgment.
The 21-year-old airman—now under arrest on charges of violating two laws that protect sensitive information, one of them being the Espionage Act—was not acting as a foreign agent, seeking to provide succor to an American adversary either for pay or out of ideological conviction. Nor was he a whistleblower, acting to bring malfeasance to light. He evidently had no higher purpose than to impress a group of teenage gamers in a chat group on the social platform Discord. Stupidity squared.