Apr 15, 2022Liked by Charlie Sykes

C. S. Lewis had Donald Trump's number back in the 1950s:

“Picture to yourself a man who has risen to wealth or power by a continued course of treachery and cruelty, by exploiting for purely selfish ends the noble motions of his victims, laughing the while at their simplicity; who, having thus attained success, uses it for the gratification of lust and hatred and finally parts with the last rag of honour among thieves by betraying his own accomplices and jeering at their last moments of bewildered disillusionment. Suppose, further, that he does all this, not (as we like to imagine) tormented by remorse or even misgiving, but eating like a schoolboy and sleeping like a healthy infant — a jolly, ruddy-cheeked man, without a care in the world, unshakably confident to the very end that he alone has found the answer to the riddle of life, that God and man are fools whom he has got the better of, that his way of life is utterly successful, satisfactory, unassailable….” – C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Welcome to your leader, MAGA.

Expand full comment

Public service has a minimum age, so why not a maximum age? I would propose we set the maximum age at 78, which is life expectancy. Politicians 78 or over would finish out their current terms and no longer be eligible for another one.

For those curious, that would disqualify Biden from a second term, and Trump too, who will turn 78 in 2024. It would disqualify 9 Senators, including Feinstein, Grassley, and Mitch McConnell. It would also disqualify 18 House members, including Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, the top Democratic leadership.

I have no problem with representatives or Senators serving lengthy, multi-decade terms. But any good organization needs continuity and a line of succession.

Expand full comment
Apr 15, 2022·edited Apr 15, 2022

Alan Cross's words:

"Christianity’s faults have come when it has aligned itself with state power to promote and enforce its values and earthly goals. What has often resulted in such cases is a perversion of the faith leading to sanctioned violence in service to nationalist or cultural aims that simultaneously weakens the spiritual witness of the church."

The establishment clause in the 1st Amendment came about because the founders recognized that entangling Church and State was bad for both.

Expand full comment

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country" Kurt Vonnegut.

Expand full comment

Not gonna lie, I think about the age of Congress everytime they have hearings on tech. It's obvious many of them know nothing about how modern technology works, and affects "real people".

I wish the best to Feinstein and her family, and only hope that the inevitable infusion of youth doesn't bring in a bunch of cryptobro-types

Expand full comment

A dilemma of dementia is that it impairs your ability to recognize your impairment. The Feinstein report is a cautionary tale as was the latter part of Regan’s presidency.

Expand full comment

Today I learned our government has just met with a roomful of arms industry companies to discuss ways to ramp up production to continue supporting Ukraine and replenish stockpiles. Today I also learned that 75% of high-end micro-processors come from Taiwan, the obesssion of China, Russia's ally. But it's Good Friday--what could go wrong?

Expand full comment

Ageism and the political world. Here's the deal, I'm 66 years old. I retired early and get less money from SSA for that reason. But AARP is telling me I've got YEARS of productive life ahead of me. When does it make sense to run for office: when I'm 36 with small children at home and I have to campaign 24/7 because re-election is just 2 years away from my inaugural OR when I'm 66 and my kids are grown, my nest is empty and I'm looking to put all that lifetime experience to work to help humanity? Is 88 and obviously in serious mental decline a line in the sand? Because I guarantee while this is a 'individual' problem, as a society we don't work well with 'take each case as you find it' and instead will impose some kind of knee-jerk 'one size fits all' response that will skew the other way in short order. I'm all for increasing the number of seats so that we don't have to be a billionaire (or supported by one) to win elections. Go back to 200,000 voters per district and this would not be as bad a problem, I promise.

Expand full comment

Why should those Ohio GOPers feel so bad? It could be worse. He’s endorsing Walker in Georgia and maybe Greitens in Missouri. They should count their blessings it’s only Vance.

Oops, forgot about Oz. Can’t imagine what it’d be like choosing between Vance and Oz.

Expand full comment

WRT JD Vance

Why on Earth would Trump back someone who has already demonstrated that they are his creature and will totally abase themselves for the endorsement? There is no fun there.

What emotional/psychological profit is there in it for him? Answer: None.

Part of the allure is getting yet another person to grovel and embarrass themselves in public for his favor--while watching the servile fools writhe in anger and frustration as they are passed over.

If you understand that it is all about Trump's emotional satisfaction, you have the key to understanding what Trump does and why.

Expand full comment

On age, here in NJ we have several young democrats that I would like to see rise higher. Andy Kim, Andrew Zwicker, Vin Gopal, and Cory Booker. Beyond NJ, the Ds have, of course, Mayor Pete, but also Abigail Spanberger, John Fetterman, and Jared Polis. Perhaps we could convince Satah and Tim to join us!

Expand full comment

The obvious decline of members of the Senate and the House has been clear for months. I can't understand how they're able to control state party structures to stay in power, when their work no longer benefits their state of the Nation. Grassley was never very articulate, now he's worse, simply jumbled. None of these people is a Benjamin Franklin. Much of the responsibility must lie with frightened, unwieldy, and weak state parties.

Expand full comment

Prediction for 2024: Trump vs. younger Democrat, the Democrat wins. Biden vs. younger Republican, the Republican wins.

Expand full comment

In her piece on the "pregnant beauty blogger," Cathy Young notes that "the strategy of the Kremlin propaganda machine is not to create a convincing alternative narrative but to sow confusion and doubt."

If the soft-on-Putin types in the West can find one instance of erroneous reporting, they'll claim that the "legacy media" can't be trusted at all -- even if the error was later corrected, and even if numerous media outlets from various countries reveal, on the whole, the same appalling picture of unprovoked Russian savagery.

BTW, it's the same strategy that Trumpers use regarding Jan. 6 -- "Oh look, someone opened a door from inside! Therefore, the narrative of a forceful invasion is a hoax!"

I hadn't seen Delgado's tweet demanding an "apology from the thousands of monsters who attacked" her. It's quite telling that she would use the word "monsters" to describe people who criticized her cynical tweet, while she's trying to whitewash the sadistically brutal acts being committed by Russia on an industrial scale.

Again, there's a Trump analogy: He will speak of "evil" or "horrible people" or "dishonesty" when his own ego or self-interest are concerned -- and it seems to be only in such cases that he uses the language of moral condemnation with any passion. But he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that Putin's actions toward Ukraine are evil -- either because he will never speak ill of Putin, or because the whole bloody business doesn't hurt him.

Expand full comment
Apr 15, 2022·edited Apr 15, 2022

A very sticky problem to be sure. I mean, with luck, we all get to be old and hopefully successful at our life's endeavors before we "check out".

What is the issue here? Getting old? Getting out of touch? Just getting cranky? By those criteria we lose most Dem/GOP leadership, and much of Congress with it. Throw in petulant whiners and Congress becomes a ghost town.

The issue is health here. Mental health specifically and we might as well add physical while we are at it. Age related mental decline is real, it's a tragedy all the way around but i don't see how you can possibly legislate any mechanism to even with kindness, remove an elected person for just getting old.

I'm sure we'll here more about "cognitive decline" and it will come from and accuse players from either side of the aisle. Who'd want that wolf-pack deciding anyones fate? Not me, and probably none of you reading either. May as well put the accused on and ice floe set adrift.

The problem is multi-fold and when you ask, as Mr Sykes does "...why government so often seems out of touch." the answer is increasingly clear. Our government, designed by white elites of the 18th Century does not function well in today's world. The "Founders Fathers" were also the "Fallible Fathers" just like anyone else.

Talk of cognitive tests, term limits, age limits et al are just lipstick on a pig that needs a makeover.

Really just how functional is the US Senate anyway? What kind of "lofty debate" really happens facing the CSPAN camera in an empty Chamber? Where ONE person can infinitely thwart the will of potentially everyone else? Everywhere you look in how we govern, the boat is leaky, there's dry rot that just another coat of paint won't fix. I just don't trust Congress enough, anymore, to deal with this issue seriously. Noting in how they behave now leads me to think otherwise. Fixing it i have little hope for but don't look for help here dealing with senilty in the Senate.

Senator Feinsteins personal tragedy won't be fixed any differently than it is for any other person. Her family, her physicians, will need to intervene, make determinations under law regarding personal competency and assign guardianship for her and her affairs. In this case that includes resigning from the US Senate.

Yep, it's messy, complicated and lengthy. For anyone, and in this case that includes a US Senator.

As the saying goes, "Deal with it". Just like everyone else does.

Expand full comment

I think the problem is that in general, if you're in politics you're probably old. Hell, if you're commentating on politics as a living you're probably old. You're 67 Charlie, and that's not young by any means. That doesn't mean you're as old as the people you're describing, but what I'm saying is that all the people who are in prominent positions on both sides of the isle are all very much either in or heading towards their twilight.

One major problem that the right had for a long time was the fact that there were no young GOP members in the same mold as the old; the result is that people like MTG and Cawthorn and Vance showed up to fill the hole. The same goes for the Democrats, whose leadership has been so reluctant to give up power that they butchered and entire generation of people and are now going to be overtaken by the younger generation as a result.

And make no mistake about it, this is partially why our politics are so insane. Because you have a bunch of old people not versed in the new ways of doing things, where the media market is 24/7 and never stops, and the young people who understand that actions and images beat words every time. There's a reason why the right was completely consumed by the MTGs of the world, and why the left has been consumed by the AOCs of the world. Because they understand the world they live in, in a way that Pelosi or Schumer or McConnell simply do not.

Young people are always more inclined to do rather than wait; and make no mistake, it's going to be quite the moment when Pelosi and Schumer and Biden and Sanders all have to retire, and they're replaced not by 50 somethings but by 30 somethings.

Expand full comment