Romney Asks the Right Question

Plus: Tim Miller does Lin Wood

Over the weekend, this happened:

Sen. Mitt Romney was lustily booed by the more than 2,100 Republican delegates who packed into the Maverik Center on Saturday for the party’s state convention.

“Accusations that Romney was a ‘traitor’ or ‘communist’ flew from the crowd like so many poison darts.”

Romney is, of course, a lifelong Republican. His father was the GOP governor of Michigan. Mitt was the Republican governor of Massachusetts, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, and is Utah’s junior United States Senator.

As the boos intensified, Romney asked the crowd:

“Aren’t you embarrassed?”

That question seems to hang in the air. How is the GOP not thoroughly humiliated by what it is becoming?

ICYMI, take a moment to watch this video from a recent open mic night at Mar-a-Lago:

Here’s what he said:

“Watch Arizona, some very interesting things are happening in Arizona, and we just had a great ruling, or actually the Senate, the State Senate of Arizona. Let’s see what they find, I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes. So we’re going to watch that very close to the end after that we’ll watch Pennsylvania and you watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and you’re watching New Hampshire, they found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire, a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now, you saw that? Because this was a rigged election, everybody knows it and we’re going to be watching it very closely but start off by you just take a look, it’s on closed circuit…”

Imagine watching this and saying: Yes, that is our leader. We believe him. We follow him. Let’s put him back in the Oval Office.

Aren’t you embarassed?

The GOP very obviously isn’t. It listens to this deluded and absurd rant and thinks:

In fact, as the Wapo reported yesterday, believing Trump’s Big Lie has become “a defining loyalty test.” (But, if you’ve been reading the Bulwark you knew that.) The key quote in the story from Debra Ell, “a Republican organizer in Michigan and fervent supporter of former president Donald Trump.”

“I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we’ve learned to trust when he says something, that he’s not just going to spew something out there that’s wrong and not verified,” she said, referring to Trump’s baseless claims that widespread electoral fraud caused his loss to President Biden in November.

The vast majority of Republican voters have bought into the buncombe.

Aren’t you embarassed?

The House GOP evidently is not. Axios reports that GOP leaders are threatening to strip Liz Cheney of her leadership position for her disloyalty to Trump’s lie. During an interview with Axios on Friday, Rep. Steve Scalise laid down a marker of fealty: "This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still.”

GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio (who also voted to impeach Trump in January) is one of the few Republicans to defend Cheney:

"If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit," he told The Hill. "Liz isn't going to lie to people. Liz is going to say what she believes. She's going to stand on principle. If that's going to be distracting for folks, she's not the best fit. I wish that weren't the case."

If the GOP is not embarrassed about this, how about this?

In today’s Bulwark, Tim Miller reports on Lin Wood’s bid to become the next chairman of the South Carolina GOP. “Over the past week of campaign stops in South Carolina,” Miller writes, “Wood has suggested that Donald Trump is still secretly in charge of the military and that a day of reckoning is coming for those who are perpetrators of the pedo pandemic.”

In other clips he has:

  • Claimed Trump was still the president, which he dismissed as humor to Lovegrove. Even though, in a separate video that he described on his Telegram as a “special moment,” he said that Trump still has the nuclear codes.

  • Argued that Mike Pence and the deep state let in Antifa rioters on January 6, making them “traitors” who should die by firing squad.

  • Offered a counter-NWO-type theory based on symbolism from Trump’s first inaugural address that might mean that the military is actually in charge of the country right now.

  • Said it’s common sense that Joe Biden didn’t even get 2 percent of the vote in 2020.

"This is not standard conspiracy-mongering,” writes Miller. “It is the creation of a warped alternate universe meant to convince people their leaders are actually enemies committing the most debased crimes imaginable... And a quarter of the Republican party is signing up."

Aren’t you embarassed?

Yeah, I said that.

Cindy McCain is embarrassed.

Speaking during a Sunday morning interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” McCain, the wife of late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), blasted the effort shepherded by Arizona’s Republican-controlled state Senate as “ludicrous.” 

A prominent critic of former President Donald Trump, whose personal attacks on her late husband have sparked a publicly contentious relationship between the two, McCain described her state’s GOP as “aloof” and “crazy” for its continued attempts to appeal to scorned Trump voters. 

Where is the Tea Party?

ICYMI: here’s my latest over at MSNBC Daily:

Think of it as the dog that didn’t bark.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden laid out his plans for spending another $1.8 trillion to strengthen the nation’s safety net. That comes on top of his $2 trillion Covi-19 relief package and his proposed $2.1 trillion infrastructure package — bringing his total proposals for new spending to nearly $6 trillion. And that comes on top of the trillions of stimulus dollars spent just last year.

All of this is stunning in its expansion of the size of government; Biden’s plan will touch nearly every aspect of the economy.

All of this is stunning in its expansion of the size of government; Biden’s plan will touch nearly every aspect of the economy, from health care and education to child care and climate change. It is more Franklin D. Roosevelt than Barack Obama. He is proposing paying for some of this with big tax hikes on corporations and the rich, but it will inevitably add even more to the national debt, which is already north of $28 trillion.

But notice what is not happening.

While Republicans predictably denounce the spending and toss out vague references to “socialism,” there is no grassroots push back. No rallies. No demonstrations. No passionate denunciations of Big Government from flag-waving crowds in tri-cornered hats. There are no signs declaring that “Grandma is Not Shovel-Ready.”

This time around, there is no Tea Party resistance.

Instead, conservative media has been focused “cancel culture,” transgender athletes, and bogus stories about burger bans and the equally fake story that a book by Kamala Harris was being handed out to immigrants at the border. There are passionate protests against mask mandates and attempts to continue re-litigate the 2020 election. But these days the grassroots right has virtually nothing to say about health care. Its concerns about the national debt seem muted at best.

The contrast with 2009 could hardly be more stark.

You can read the rest here.

Quick Hits

1. The Return of Earmarks

James C. Capretta writes in the Bulwark:

The Democrats eager to bring back the practice, with quiet support from many Republican appropriators, are promising its return will not cause national embarrassment. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy is requiring all requests to be in writing, and posted online for public review. The total amount set aside for “congressionally directed spending items”—Leahy’s preferred term—will be limited, and requesters must certify that they and their families will not profit if their petitions are approved for inclusion in the appropriations bills.

While these guardrails help ease concerns, the more powerful reason to countenance a return of earmarking is the sorry state of Congress. The practice was banned (in its visible forms) starting in 2011, and yet Congress’s performance has gotten worse. The country badly needs a functioning legislative branch that strikes compromises on festering issues, such as immigration, climate change, election rules, and much else. If earmarking helps House and Senate leaders round up the votes for such bills, that would make it worthwhile to test if legislators can be trusted again with small annual allowances.

2. Smells like… optimism?

Via ABC:

President Joe Biden completes his first hundred days in office with a country that is more optimistic about the coming year, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) are optimistic about the direction of the country in the poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos' KnowledgePanel.

Cheap Shots

There are tweets that age badly. And then there is this, from April 9, 2020—->