The Insanity Right in Front of Us
Plus: What today’s Gosar vote tells us.
“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”—George Orwell
So let’s take a moment to look at what is in front of our noses today:
Of course, this feels like a story as old as time by now, but let’s contemplate what we are seeing here: the former and perhaps future president of the United States sitting down with one of the wooliest and most demented figures in our cracked political culture.
It seems unfair to call Mike Lindell a conspiracy theorist or even an election-denier, because, by now, it should be clear that there is something deeply wrong with the man. For months he has been peddling delusions so absurd that he’s become an embarrassment even to MAGA’s post-shame grifter world. His bogus claims about voting machines have drawn billion dollar defamation suits; his algorithms claiming to show Chinese hacking turned out to be gibberish; and his predictions of Trump’s imminent re-instatement by a unanimous (!) Supreme Court —as you may have noticed — have so far gone unfulfilled.
In a rational universe, he would be an object less of outrage than of pity; and his friends would be planning interventions rather than televised sit-downs. The man needs medication, not more validation. Even Ron Johnson probably thinks he’s nuts.
But here we are are. Look at that picture again (and, no, I don’t know why Trump is wearing a tux.)
It’s right in front of us: The former and perhaps future president is trafficking in lunacy — undiluted, straight, barking-at-the-moon crazy. And the GOP seems intent on putting him back in the Oval Office.
The Republican Accountability Project @AccountableGOPDonald Trump continues to push the big lie during Mike Lindell's interview, "We know what happened...they basically used COVID-19 or the China virus to rig the election, and it's a shame." https://t.co/O3koK5xAaK
It will not surprise you to learn that the interview itself was every bit as batshit crazy as you might expect.
Lindell then floated the idea to Trump that machines from Dominion Voting Systems could be melted down and made into "prison bars."
"That's very interesting. That's a very good idea," Trump said.
And, speaking of insanity...
Even if you are numbed, this new detail from Jonathan Karl’s book is still gobsmacking.
"Betrayal" also reports that Sydney Powell, Flynn's former lawyer who was then advising President Trump, called [senior Trump intelligence official Ezra Cohen] shortly after the Flynn conversation and tried to enlist his help with one the most far-fetched claims about the election, involving then-CIA Director Gina Haspel.
"Gina Haspel has been hurt and taken into custody in Germany," Powell told Cohen, pushing a false conspiracy theory that had been gaining steam among QAnon followers, according to the book. "You need to launch a special operations mission to get her," Powell said.
Powell, according to the book, was pushing the outlandish claim that Haspel had been injured while on a secret CIA operation to seize an election-related computer server that belonged to a company named Scytl -- none of which was true.
"The server, Powell claimed, contained evidence that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of votes had been switched using rigged voting machines. Powell believed Haspel had embarked on this secret mission to get the server and destroy the evidence -- in other words, the CIA director was part of the conspiracy," Karl writes.
Powell wanted the Defense Department to send a special operations team over to Germany immediately: "They needed to get the server and force Haspel to confess," Karl writes.
Cohen thought Powell sounded out of her mind, according to the book, and he quickly reported the call to the acting defense secretary.
And don’t get me started on Michael Flynn.
We are on the cusp of a media crisis that no one is talking about.
As we move toward 2024, the big concern should be how the media would cover an openly anti-democratic presidential candidate. Would they treat said candidate as a danger to America? Or would they attempt to remain neutral and pretend that he was just another generic politician doing normal political things?
If this scenario comes to pass, that would be something entirely new in media.
And it’s not clear to me that anyone is really gaming this problem out yet.
A New Low in McCarthy’s House
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Later today, we are likely to get another stark reminder of the priority, values, and standards of the GOP, when the House votes on a resolution censuring Rep. Paul Gosar for tweeting out images of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and attacking President Joe Biden. The resolution would also strip him of his committee assignments.
But Kinzinger is very much an outlier here.
I’m going out on limb here, and predicting that more than 90 percent of the GOP conference will stand by the deplorable Gosar. This is the same conference that stripped Liz Cheney of her leadership position, so we get the picture, right?
And, of course, there were no apologies.
In case you are keeping score at home:
Olivia Beavers @Olivia_BeaversNew this am: Rep. Gosar spoke behind closed doors to explain to members his reason for the anime video, saying it was to reach a wider audience, sources tell me. McCarthy told members at conference that Rs should be united on this & that Dems don’t punish their own for comments
Christopher Rufo is having a normal one
Our friends on the intellectual right assure us that Christopher Rufo — the high-profile leader of the anti-CRT push — is absolutely a serious thinker and not at all a cynical charlatan.
Yesterday, he brought us yet another one of his deep — and not at all unhinged — thoughts:
Just when you thought…
… that Chris Christie is not totally full of sh*t…
1. Adam Schiff Tells His Story
In today’s Bulwark, Gabriel Schoenfeld reviews the congressman’s new book.
Far from being “the boy who cried collusion,” Schiff documents chapter and verse of the nefarious behavior, taking the reader through one sketchy episode after another. There was, to begin with, in April 2016, the Russian approach, through an intermediary, to one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers, George Papadopoulos, in which they told him that they were in possession of “dirt” about Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, presumably hacked, with the implication that they could aid the campaign by releasing them at strategic moments.
2. Democrats Are Stuck In Their Own Echo Chamber
Denying that political reality is at the heart of the Democrats’ political problems these days. Party leaders seem genuinely to believe that they can win swing-state elections by mobilizing their base and tying every Republican to former President Trump. The strategy backfired badly in Virginia (and nearly in New Jersey) this month, yet Democrats appear disinclined to change course.
Just take a look at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new strategy memo for the upcoming midterms. It takes a page out of Terry McAuliffe’s playbook in Virginia: Tout the party’s emergency spending against COVID, while championing its social spending plan and newly passed infrastructure bill, all while demonizing Republican candidates as extreme, dangerous, and anti-democratic. “We believe the American people will make the right bet on progress over chaos,” the memo concludes.
And House Democratic leaders certainly aren’t embracing longtime Democratic strategist James Carville’s advice that the party needs to “go to a woke detox center” to win back voters in the middle. This is a stay-the-course document, even as polls show Biden’s approval ratings hitting all-time lows and the Democrats facing historic deficits on the generic ballot.