Tucker Drags The Troops

(It didn't go well)

To the delight of much of the troll-o-sphere, Ben Shapiro on Thursday coined a new gibe, referring to Joe Biden as ‘President Houseplant.”

It wasn’t especially witty, but it was enough to power the day’s clickbaity take. “President Houseplant is not fully there,” opined Dr. Shapiro. “We all know this. But Democrats desperately need him in order to put a non-threatening face on some of the most radical policy we have ever seen.”

The Biden-is-senile theme was picked up later in the day by an oddly butch-attired and absolutely-not-over-served Ben Domenech. “This,” he declared of Biden’s primetime address, “is another garbage speech full of lies from a senile person who thinks that they're in charge of America but actually isn't running anything."

Some of us apparently watched another speech, But the right’s obsession with senility is a tell.

Something about Biden is upsetting them. Could it be…. success?

In case you haven’t had your morning dose of schadenfreude yet…check out this hot take from the Federalist’s chief Trumpian turd-polisher, who thinks that Biden’s “problem” is that the pandemic is “getting better way way way too soon” for him to get any credit. (Spoiler alert, Biden’s approval rating on his handling of the virus is around 60-70 percent.)

Which brings me to the speech last night.

First: contrast it with the Shapiro-Domenech characterization. Biden was supposed to be President “Houseplant,” but last night he came out and was an honest to God actual, sentient, competent empathetic president. What are you going believe? Your stinking eyes, or a twitter meme?

Second: For all the reasons listed above, it was a Non-Trump speech in every respect. No chest-thumping, bravado, or narcissism. No whining or crackpottery. No suggestions that the pandemic was going to magically disappear or that we should think about injecting bleach up our butts.

Instead, it was sober, modest, and hopeful. Presidential.

Obviously that was a lot to handle for the faux-lumberjack pundits with their Fox contracts to earn.


Politico playbook’s verdict: “Last night is why Joe Biden won the presidency.”

Every president is eventually called upon to help us collectively grieve.

JOE BIDEN may be the first president elected to do so.

His speech Thursday night had some important policy promises — by May 1 every adult will be eligible for a vaccine and by July Fourth relative normalcy will return.

David Leonhardt focused on the speech’s hopefulness as a public health tool.

The speech included plenty of caveats, about virus variants, uncertainty and more. Biden’s political strategy on the virus is clearly to underpromise so he can overdeliver. But that’s part of what made the July 4 vision memorable. Even Biden, with all of his caution, seems to grasp the power of hopefulness at this moment.


In contrast, the speech inspired quite a bit of YELLING from the usual suspects.

And we got some performative outrage from Tucker Carlson over the Fourth of July thing:


But speaking of Tucker (and let’s do that)…. he’s having quite a week. Let’s start with with tweet from U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-KickingTucker’sAss):

Tucker walked right into this — a fop in a blue frilled shirt lecturing the US military on manliness. How did he think this would go?

This rounded out a week in which he played one culture war card after another, claiming that American has “enshrined open racism” against white people; giving a platform to discredited coronavirus truthers like Alex Berenson; and obsessively dragging a young female NYT reporter named Taylor Lorenz. The cruelty seemed to be the point. After one of his rants about Lorenz, the Times put out a statement calling Carlson’s attacks on the reporter “a calculated and cruel tactic, which he regularly deploys to unleash a wave of harassment and vitriol at his intended target.”

But this was all prologue to his attack on women in the military.

Duckworth’s reaction (above) was merely one salvo. It was followed by pointed comments from military officers up and down the chain of command: “Senior leaders dunk on Tucker Carlson’s misogynistic comments about maternity flight suits.”

His comments made their way up to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, whose spokesman on Thursday put a fine point on the issue….

What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host, or the Chinese military. Now maybe those folks feel like they have something to prove ― that’s on them. We know we’re the greatest military in the world today, and even for all the things we need to improve, we know exactly why that’s so.”

There was more:

Christopher Ingram, an infantryman and speechwriter to the commander of the war against the Islamic State group, also noted on Twitter the role that women were playing on the front lines of America's wars. “Shout out to the pilot and door gunner on today's flight. Both women. Soldiers. Professionals. Both badass. Tucker Carlson is the mockery," he wrote, alongside a picture of the flight.

And Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, commanding general at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, posted a video of the reenlistment ceremony for a female soldier and added, "just a reminder that @TuckerCarlson couldn't be more wrong."

And then there was this dunk via video from Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Scott Stalker, senior enlisted leader for U.S. Space Command, who said “Those opinions were made by an individual who has never served a day in his life. Let's remember that was drama TV.”

Exit take:

We Get Mail. We’re bringing back our special weekend newsletter featuring select emails from Bulwark members. Have thoughts, feedbacks, laurels, darts?

Feel free to write me at cjaysykes@gmail.com.

Saying the quiet part OUTLOUD:

This is what Arizona GOP State Rep. John Kavanaugh told CNN about voting:

Exit take: “Everybody shouldn’t be voting.”

From Vice: Even Trump’s Defense Secretary During the Capitol Riot Blames Him for Inciting It.

Recalling the events of that day, Miller said he wasn’t sure whether Trump was aware that his speech might have such extreme consequences, but he was certain the attack wouldn’t have happened without them. Listening to the remarks that morning, he said he found some of the comments “concerning” and that they set off alarm bells.

“It seems cause-and-effect,” Miller said, referring to Trump’s speech and the violent riot that left five people dead. “The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don’t know.”

Quick Hits

“Election Integrity” Means Suppression

Amanda Carpenter in today’s Bulwark:

So how is it, exactly, that Democrats are supposed to have a reasonable, good-faith negotiation concerning voting rights with a party that worked aggressively to overturn Biden’s free and fair victory? No wonder progressives are eager to do plow forward and abolish the filibuster to pass the bill.

Because it is not clear that there is any way to get 10 Republican senators on board with any voting rights bill. It’s not because of any specific objections to this or that part of HR 1. It’s because, writ large, Democrats and Republicans do not have the same interests when it comes to the act of voting. One party wants to make it easier to vote. The other is on record trying to stop opposition votes from being counted at all. When those are the parameters of the voting rights debate, there’s no room for compromise. There’s nothing to discuss.

The best hope for pro-democracy conservatives, uneasy with totally abolishing the filibuster, is to push for filibuster-weakening measures, and advocate that the most objectionable (and possibly unconstitutional) aspects of the bill be stripped out.

Because with the stakes what they are following the 2020 election, it’s tough to make a good case as to why Democrats should let the authoritarians in the GOP filibuster democracy itself.

Cheap Shots

Where’s the lie?

Real Men of Genius.