The GOP’s “Coco Chow” Moment
Plus: The useful idiots of CPAC.
ICYMI: Moved by some random irritation or compulsion, Trump pushed out this post on his inaptly named “Truth Social” site:
Moronic. Insane. Barely literate. But, as the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser points out, the rant reflects Trump’s fixation with McConnell.
And lest there was any doubt about the depth of Trump’s obsession, a spox for the ex-president amplified it in a statement:
“Mitch McConnell is killing the Republican Party through weakness and cowardice,” spokesman Taylor Budowich wrote in a statement. “He obviously has a political death wish for himself and Republican Party, but President Trump and the America First champions in Congress will save the Republican Party and our nation.”
I understand the inclination to just ignore this, I really do. Another petty, vindictive, vulgar, racist tirade from Mar-a-Lago.
Been there done that. Old news. Don’t amplify it. Ignore him.
At this point, it seems reasonable to be bored, even numbed by the redundancy of the former guy’s bigoted fetishes. Except, of course, for the fact that he remains the near-prohibitive frontrunner to be his party’s nominee for president.
For the moment, let’s leave aside how bizarre (and yet so very, very much on brand) it is for Trump to lash out at the Republican leader in the midst of a tensely fought midterm election campaign. And, let’s pass over (for now) the rich irony of the fact that McConnell whiffed on his chance to rid himself (and us) of this cancerous boil during Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Instead, let’s take a moment to consider the fact that the former and perhaps future president (1) seems to be making a death threat against McConnell, and (2) used a crude racist nickname to lash out at the GOP leader’s wife, Elaine Chao, “his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” (BTW: This was the second time in a week that Trump had referred to Chao as “Coco.”)
This country has a long history of anti-Chinese bigotry and scapegoating. But seldom, if ever, has it come in this raw form from a former occupant of the White House. (This is not, of course, the first time that Trump has mocked Asians, or ridiculed their accents.)
So consider as well, (3) the refusal of Republican elected officials — even McConnell allies — to push back against Trump’s slur in any meaningful way, by which I mean, in any way at all.
Alexa, define pusillanimity:
Scott actually had several cracks at doing the right thing, and ducked each time. On CBS on Sunday, Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan pressed Scott on Trump’s statement, as well as Marjorie Taylor Greene’s declaration that “Democrats want Republicans dead. They’ve already started the killings.” Via Axios:
“I didn’t see what she said," Scott said of ‘the killings’ comment, which came during a rally for Trump on Saturday night.” Here’s the bit Scott says he missed:
On Face the Nation, Brennan kept pushing Scott about Trump’s rant:
“What I quoted you is a phrase saying McConnell has a death wish. He said racist things about Elaine Chao. And then, ‘they have already started the killings.’ I mean, that's not a policy dispute, Senator, the language is what I’m talking about. Isn’t that dangerous?” Brennan asked.
Scott dodged, offering up this word-salad:
“I think we all have to figure out how do we start bringing people together and have a common goal to give every American the opportunity to get a great job, their kids to have an education, they believe they can be anything and make sure everybody lives in a safe community. That’s what I do every day. And I’ve tried to bring people together to do that,” Scott replied.
Brennan pressed again. “And you would agree that that language doesn’t bring people together?” she asked. Scott deflected . . . again.
“I believe what the President Trump was talking about is the fact that we can’t keep spending money. We are — we’re going to hurt our poorest families the most with this reckless, Democrat spending and we cannot, we got to stop it. We can’t cave into their spending,” Scott said.
Brennan corrected Scott, pointing out the very specific, very racist term that Trump had used to refer to McConnell’s wife.
“Okay. That’s not what the former president said,” she said. “And Coco Chow was the phrase he used to refer to a former cabinet secretary, Elaine Chao.”
Confronted with the actual slur, Scott brushed it off as a cute “nickname.”
“He look — he likes for, you know, he gives people nicknames. I’m sure he has a nickname for me. Alright. So you can ask him what he means by his nicknames. What I — what I want to make sure I hit what I can do. I can try my best to bring people together and I’m gonna try to bring people together,” Scott responded.
Because, of course.
Scott, who leads the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, did eventually say: “It’s never, ever OK to be a racist,” but obviously that’s not true, because Scott is definitely OK with Trump and his racism.
For Republicans like Scott, this is no longer even a struggle. Long ago, they accepted the random insults, the threats, and the racism. Charlottesville, Muslim bans, birtherism, the mockery of the disabled and the wives of opponents, “shithole countries” — they swallowed it all.
Why would they stop now, when there is an election to win?
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The Useful Idiots of CPAC
Over the weekend, CPAC tweeted and then deleted a statement parroting Putin’s view of ‘Ukraine-occupied territories’ while criticizing what it called American “gift-giving to Ukraine.”
The image of the Russian flag next to Ukraine’s was an interesting touch.
The timing was revealing, coming just after Putin’s unhinged in-the-bunker speech, and as we got even more evidence of Russian war crimes.
Perhaps, that was why CPAC quickly pulled the tweet, but the group offered up this bullshit excuse:
CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp on Saturday said the tweet did not clear the normal approval process because he was traveling for a conference in Australia. “Due to my travel into a distant time zone it was never approved per usual,” he said in a text message.
In fact, the tweet itself was consistent with the MAGA Right’s pro-Putinism, which we have documented here, here, here, and here.
But the incident was a reminder that the oleaginous Matt Schlapp not only lacks the courage of his own convictions, but, apparently, also lacks the courage of the fasci convictions of his latest incarnation.
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Senate warnings for Democrats
Democrats are facing fresh problems in two pivotal Senate battlegrounds in which their nominees are facing attacks for being too progressive.
What's happening: In Wisconsin, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has pulled ahead of Democrat Mandela Barnes in the latest wave of public polls. In Pennsylvania, recent polling suggests Democrat John Fetterman's double-digit advantage over Republican Mehmet Oz has shrunk to a statistical tie. They are vying for the seat held by retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
Why it matters: The Republican momentum in both states, acknowledged by strategists on both sides, means the pathway for Republicans to win back the Senate majority looks clearer.
If they hold Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — along with all the states Trump carried — Republicans would need to unseat just one Democratic incumbent.
Michael Fanone is not all out of F’s to give
LANGUAGE WARNING FOR YOU SNOWFLAKES
You really have to read this epic piece in Rolling Stone: “Michael Fanone Is Not Your Fucking Hero.”
It’s pure poetry.
Like, fuck, for instance, the 21 House Republicans who voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Well, when Fanone got a load of that shit, he called up his friend Harry Dunn — a Capitol Police officer who had testified with Fanone during the congressional hearings in July 2021 — and the two decided to pay a little visit to every one of those House Republicans (“I was like, ‘I’ve got nothing better to do today. I’m going to go annoy some people on Capitol Hill’”).
Speaking of those visits, fuck the “fucking fat fuck” chief of staff who had the gall to ask to see Dunn’s badge that day (“I was like, ‘Here’s my badge number: One,’” says Fanone, holding up his middle finger. “I eat that shit for breakfast”).
Fuck Marjorie Taylor Greene (“Put her in the tinfoil-hat brigade”) and Andrew Clyde (“When confronted in person, he fucking folded like a fucking deck of cards”) and Matt Gaetz (“I mean, dude, there’s a constituency out there somewhere in America that elected Matt Gaetz and decided that guy somehow embodied what it is to be a real red-blooded American. A fucking pedo. I don’t get it”).
Fuck Josh Hawley. “He comes down there, flashes the sign of solidarity, riles up this fucking crowd,” Fanone says of Hawley’s actions during the insurrection. “I would’ve had more respect for him if he said, ‘Charge,’ and fucking rushed the first fucking group of police officers that he could possibly fucking find. But he didn’t. He ran like a bitch as fast as he fucking could to the closest safe room in the fucking Capitol building.”
And definitely, definitely fuck Kevin McCarthy, who, as Fanone describes in the first chapter of his memoir, Hold the Line (out Oct. 11), lied and deflected his way through a meeting with Fanone and Jan. 6 casualty Brian Sicknick’s mother — the dead man’s mother, for fuck’s sake! — as he nixed any chance of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because of so-called political factors.
1. Kevin McCarthy’s Plan to Benghazi the Bidens
Amanda Carpenter in today’s Bulwark:
McCarthy’s plan to Benghazi the Bidens isn’t subtle. In July, he cowrote a New York Post op-ed with Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer, the top Republicans on the Judiciary and Oversight committees, titled “We’ll investigate Bidens’ shady business dealings when Republicans take the House in November.” The placement of the op-ed was deliberate. The New York Post is where the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop controversially originated.
2. How Much Do Putin’s Annexations Really Matter?
They won’t change his calculus about using nuclear weapons, writes Ben Parker.
[To] the extent that the Putin-might-use-nukes analysis depends on the idea that Putin actually cares about the results of the referenda, it does not hold water. A man who has rigged many elections in the past and killed and jailed many political opponents, and who was ultimately responsible for instigating these sham referenda, is not going to believe that just because people “voted,” sovereignty changed.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that Putin is the kind of guy who would risk a full-on nuclear exchange over a legal distinction between land Russia had merely stolen and land it had recently claimed. This summer, when the Ukrainians struck a Russian military base in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, Putin didn’t resort to nuclear weapons, even though the Crimeans had voted in a March 2014 “referendum” to join Russia and have ever since been administered as a Russian province. More to the point, Putin hardly reacted at all in April when the Ukrainians conducted a daring helicopter raid against Belgorod, a Russian city just across the border from Kharkiv. Why would Putin be more committed to the defense of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia than Belgorod?
3. How the Broken Immigration System Took a Toll on My Love for America
Don’t miss this powerful — and very personal — piece from Shay Khatiri.
Imagine living in purgatory, and your sin is coming to America. That’s how my life has been for years. I live in the United States legally, but I don’t have a legal status. I’m not here on a visa, and I’m not a resident either. I just . . . am. Technically I’m seeking political asylum, but it’s more accurate to say that I’ve given up on getting political asylum.
Amanda's piece was great, but I do have one small request, and maybe it will start a trend in journalism generally. Whenever quoting a Republican referring to the "Democrat Party," maybe publish the quote with a (sic), like "Democrat (sic) Party." These Republicans intentionally botch the term because A) They're assholes and B) They delight in the performative disrespect (see A). Democrats don't routinely misname the Republican Party, because they're not children, and they don't view their voters as petulant little schoolyard imps.
Far from ignoring Trump's latest cleansing rant, it is both appropriate and even necessary to play it up and confront the people of America with it, right between the eyes and ears.
Politics, racism, and stupidity aside -- I know, I'm asking for a lot with that -- there are blatantly obvious signs that the man is mentally ill and unstable. The problem is getting worse, not better. A parent of mine was diagnosed not so long ago with severe dementia, and Trump exhibits so many of the same behavioral tendencies. I'm no doctor, and never even played one on TV. But I know someone when I see him/her who is not in control of the self and cannot be trusted to make decisions for himself/herself any longer, much less for the nation and the world.
It is time for America to have this talk. Openly, not privately. Loudly, not in whispered tones. We simply cannot allow someone clearly and visibly mentally impaired to have control of the fate of everyone else either for being loathe to offend people or out of fear of how they will react. The stakes are way too high to sit this out, decide that it is someone else's problem to deal with directly, and assume that some way, somehow everything will work out okay in the end. It will not.