The GOP's "Breaking Bad" Vibe

Plus: Why Liz matters

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,”  — John Bolton said, as Donald Trump’s shakedown of the Ukrainian president took shape.

It was an arresting image. Impeachable you might say.

And it’s worth revisiting today as the GOP cartel moves to eliminate Liz Cheney for ratting them out.

Let me make it clear: I’m not suggesting that they are actually a bunch of drug dealers, because that would be hyperbolical and unfair.

I am, however, suggesting that the American Right has become a political meth lab; and that the GOP is undergoing its own version of Breaking Bad.

This helps explain why it seems that the GOP has become even crazier after the defeat of Trump. As David Brooks suggested a while back: “It’s as if the Trump base felt some security when their man was at the top, and that’s now gone. Maybe Trump was the restraining force.”

Now all the dealers are out freelancing, vying with one another for who can sell the most potent stuff on the street. Election lies, searching for bamboo on ballots, speculation about overturning the election, vaccine denialism, rants about Fauci and China

I riffed on this, the other day: Think of the GOP as Walter White.

Its most ambitious members are now competing with one another to see who can sell the purest grade crap. In order to keep people angry, outraged, victimized, they have to keep cooking up with more potent stuff. Josh Hawley knows that Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and Ron Johnson are out there peddling some pretty toxic smack on the streets. He knows he has to top that.

So I picture Hawley breaking bad in a Hazmat suit, down in his basement trying to come up with the purest possible form of crazy meth to fed the base.

If you go with the meth lab image, you also understand what’s going on with the right wing media too. Fox News suddenly realizes there are new dealers horning in on their territory. It takes harder and harder stuff to get the same dopamine hit.

OANN and Newsmax are getting people to shoot up new versions of the outrage white and thinking they are getting the truth about what the Marshal of the Supreme Court might do about the election.

So Fox realizes they need stronger crank to keep the outrage and the ratings up. And so you get:


Speaking of cranks.

Dan McLaughlin, aka Baseball Crank, has become a Krakatoa of Bad Takes, but this one is really hall of fame stuff.

Trump’s illiberal instincts were never much of a real threat, he insists, because they were “always limited by Trump himself. Trump was too old, too lazy, too undisciplined and unorganized, and too lacking in physical daring to mount an assault that would present a genuine threat to the system.” 

Um. But, wait, there’s more.

The real danger of Trump to the survival of our system was, from the very beginning, not that his misbehavior would do direct harm, but that it would embolden an illiberal reaction from progressives….

As Christian Vanderbrouk remarked: “Imagine still believing this after January 6.”

Isaac Chotiner has his own contrarian take:

Join us:

And she’s out.

ICYMI: watch this:

Exit take:

Why progressives should care about Cheney.

Jonathan Chait notes the growing backlash against Cheney on the left — herehere, and here. But he puts the issue into context:

Cheney’s break with her party is not just one issue, to be weighed on the ledger alongside all the others. It’s a question of singular importance.

The Republican Party’s democracy skepticism is crossing a dangerous new threshold, and is now making routine the practice of rejecting any election loss. Trump’s autogolpe matters because the party is internalizing his belief that Democratic election victories are not just inherently fraudulent, but can and should be challenged and overturned. The Republicans who broke with Trump are being punished and in some cases removed from their positions, and those who stood behind him rewarded. Republicans were too divided to carry through Trump’s attempt to reject the election, but next time, the party will be far more united.

Cheney’s decision to challenge the party on democracy is remarkable for several reasons. First, she is putting the issue squarely. Rather than softening her line or couching her stance in the logic of messaging (i.e., Trump’s rhetoric will hurt Republicans with swing voters), she is straightforwardly instructing her fellow Republicans that their current path is a menace to the Constitution and the rule of law. Second, she has absolutely nothing to gain and a great deal to lose.

Moving on?

Even as the GOP insists that it is cancelling Cheney because she refuses to move on, we get this statement from the Orange Versailles. It is NOT a parody.

The major Michigan Election Fraud case has just filed a bombshell pleading claiming votes were intentionally switched from President Trump to Joe Biden. The number of votes is MASSIVE and determinative. This will prove true in numerous other States. All Republicans must UNIFY and not let this happen. If a thief robs a jewelry store of all of its diamonds (the 2020 Presidential Election), the diamonds must be returned. The Fake News media refuses to cover the greatest Election Fraud in the history of our Country. They have lost all credibility, but ultimately, they will have no choice!

Quick Hits

1. Liz Cheney Should Run for President

Sarah Longwell has some advice:

The question isn’t why Rep. Liz Cheney, the recently defenestrated former House Republican Conference Chair, would run for president. The question is why she wouldn’t.

Cheney’s openness to a presidential run is entirely consistent with her overall political strategy since the January 6 insurrection. That strategy is almost unrecognizable in modern Washington, but it has a unique logic and a power. It’s usually referred to as “leadership.”

Cheney is doing what she believes is right and inviting others to follow. She began by announcing her intentions to vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump, which helped secure nine more Republican votes for impeachment in the House, thereby opening the door to seven Republican senators voting to convict. In other words, by doing openly and proudly what she thought was right, she made it possible for others to follow her. (Credit here also goes to Rep. John Katko, who was the first Republican to announce he would vote to impeach Trump, although he lacked Cheney’s position in conference leadership.)

Courage can be contagious.

2. How the ‘Big Lie’ Became a Big Threat

Kim Wehle sounds the alarm:

To complete the coup, if the true Electoral College vote managed to survive the state legislature in December, a Republican-controlled Congress could kill it during the vote-counting on January 6, 2025. In its current form, the Electoral Count Act allows a single senator and a single representative to object to a state’s certification on any grounds, as we all saw on January 6. If, as a result of objections to a state’s slate of electors, no presidential candidate has an Electoral College majority, the selection of the next president is thrown to the House, where each state votes as one. Republicans would presumably win such a vote; even now, with Republicans in the overall minority in the House, they have majorities in a majority of the state delegations.

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Mike Gallagher on January 6th: "Mr. President. You have got to stop this. The election is over. Call it off. This is bigger than you. It is bigger than any member of Congress. It is about the United States of America..."

Mike Gallagher today: I’m with Team Sedition.