From statesman to fluffer-in-chief
"Greg Abbott says gun violence is due to a mental health crisis, not guns. So, America is exceptionally crazy?"
First, in answer to the question, yes. If America allows mass shootings to go on unchecked and actually tries to make it easier for people to get assault weapons, especially the young (see: Texas), whose critical thinking skills, maturity, and reasoning capabilities are far from fully developed ... it is collectively crazy. Other progressive, forward-thinking nations -- as close to our own border as Canada -- seem to figure it out, such that their people do not empower dangerous leaders whose actions of self-preservation, and agenda of maximum freedom with a minimum of responsibility to others, are placed ahead of the people whom they are elected and compensated to serve, and for the worst of reasons: hyperpartisan gain and eradication of opposition.
Second, I'm exhausted with opportunists like Abbott and by their strawman argument that the gun violence issue is inherently an either-or proposition: either you have gun control or you have more and better mental health measures. Fact: you can have both. Another fact: not everyone who performs a mass shooting would be flagged by mental health testing. There are various reasons for active shooter situations, not just "clinically crazy" as they might put it. Momentary anger and a lack of control. Misguided revenge motives. Lack of maturity. Peer pressure (e.g. gangs). And so on. All need to be addressed without resorting to a one-size fits-all approach.
The mental health argument falls flat when we factor in that all these shootings have one thing in common: those crazy people are sane enough to recognize that the weapon that can do the most lethal damage, in the shortest amount of time, and with the most defensive potential for the shooter, is a firearm. It is the common denominator in every event, so it is the one to address first and foremost. Wake me when we see a surge in mass attacks on a public place by crazy people wielding a knife or baseball bat instead of a firearm. No, it's about the guns. Always has been. Always will be. Unless we get over our own crazy long enough to seek change instead of more of the same, wishing that the problem would resolve itself as if free beer, pizza, and fairy tales for all.
This is fantastic and I look forward to reading the whole thing. Will brings a thoughtful curiosity to every topic he discusses.
There was a time when people routinely said "I disagree with <insert politician name here> on things, but he's a good man (or she's a good woman). We'll be ok." Lindsey Graham used to be one of those politicians for me. Perhaps it was his association with McCain, but he was a (somewhat misguided) maverick who cared more about country than party. His utter humiliation to Donald Trump has been something to behold. It is not really hyperbolic to wonder if Trump has some sort of blackmail on him because his mortification has been so public and blatant.
Thanks for this piece. I see it is getting some twitter dot com traction.
One important and often overlooked aspect of this violence is the role of misogyny and hatred of women. Tom Nichols and Laurie Penny have written about this. Nearly all of these radicalized young men have resentment of women, misogynistic posts, and even rape fantasies posted online in their past. It's like a gateway drug. Young man can't get dates > turns to online forums focused on anger against women > alienated young man is radicalized by racist, right-wing actors online. The connection between misogyny and violent extremism is unambiguous. They say "fuck your feelings!!" but THEIR feelings are paramount, and we all suffer because of it.
'Folks…. “Cheney launches New Hampshire TV ad slashing Trump.”'
Good for Liz Cheney, but the glaring problem with this ad is that it claims Trump to be unfit for office simply because of Jan 6 - trump proved himself to be unfit for office over and over and over again, but even Cheney and Kinzinger didn't jump off the trump crazy train until Jan 6 happened.... Now is the time, isn't it, to drive the message home to ordinary Americans that we don't want anyone so manifestly unfit for office to occupy the White House again?
On Matt Walsh -- masculinity is like genius. Those who possess it rarely feel the need to mention it.
"You can never be fully manly on ice skates", says the guy who looks like he just stepped out of a 70's gay porn flick. SMH.
For all of the liberty-loving areas, I don't see them making improving mental health services as a real priority. They're real quick to pass measures making it easier to buy and carry a firearm. More mental health... crickets. It's almost like they're not serious about the "mental health" aspect of gun violence.
'The Hill: “US passes 200 mass shootings this year.”'
Think about that - today is only day 129 of 2023....
Lindsey has always been a fluffer. He has never been a leader.
I’m in the middle of reading Will Saletan’s masterwork, and it’s incredible. Thank you, Will, for writing it, and thank you, Bulwark, for taking Will on board and giving us this work, Lindsey as the avatar for the knuckling under of normie, moral Republicans is spot on. The frog practically coaches the cook on how gradually to turn up the heat. The only way to avoid the boil is to not get into the pot in the first place. Does America like the way the boil felt enough to get back in? (The GOP never got out.)
I agree with Steve Schmidt that Lindsey is a pilot fish. A man who just goes along.
Matt Walsh would last about 10 seconds on skates before he was begging for mercy. In this Spring's playoffs alone, we already had a player on the Winnipeg Jets, Morgan Barron, take a skate to the face that led to a wound that that required 75 stitches to close. He came back and finished the game. Yes, finished the game.
"Barron was taken to the locker room where he received medical attention to close the wound. The 24-year-old not only came back to the Jets' bench in the second period, but he was also on the ice with a full cage on his helmet to protect his face.
Jets center Adam Lowry said Barron looked "like he got attacked by a shark" and everyone was concerned, because they could "see a trail of blood all the way from the crease to the bench."
These Ben Shapiro style "angry young man" conservatives are the most pathetic bunch of phony weaklings one could ever imagine.
Tom Nichols could probably reduce them to tears with just a glare.
Did ... did you just gift me an ebook? Written by Will Saletan? Thank you very much! I can't wait to read it. Will there be a place to discuss this book in the Bulwark? I'd really look forward to that.
Thanks Will for chronicling Graham’s descent. While my expectations have always been low, did not see this coming during the days of the three Amigos (McCain, Graham and Lieberman).
John Avlon had the correct take on the reparation commission last night. We need to reckon with the country’s original sin but a plan that will bankrupt the state would garner no support. I was floored by the other person on the panel saying the federal government can step in. Did she not know we may not even be able to pay regular bills due to debt ceiling fight?
Thanks for the Graham piece. The phrase the banality of evil comes to mind.
The California reparations issue has come up before in other circumstances, most notably the internment of enemy aliens and even American citizens during the World War II era. What that historical experience tells us is how imperfect the solutions are to the problem and how divisive it becomes when it moves beyond the talking stage. Some questions: how is fundamental fairness achieved? What documentation is required in order to prove eligibility? How do monetary payments to people who were not part of the original problem achieve redress now? And, no less legitimately, where does the massive amount of money come from, and without causing economic chaos elsewhere?
I have experience with the internment issue from the 1980s and can state that it was a well-intended but flawed solution to a problem that could not be solved simply by an apology and a number of $20,000 checks. For one thing, although the federal government rightly addressed the wrongs of Japanese-American detention and internment and the reasons behind them, via Public Law 100-383 (1988), it did not acknowledge the similar plight of German and Italian legal resident aliens and certain American citizens of those groups. Their attempts over the last upward of four decades to have the government address the discrepancy have been in vain. For them justice delayed has been justice denied. Most of them do not want money -- they simply seek to have the federal government formally admit that they were interned, often wrongly so, such that the historical record is both factually accurate and as complete as possible. It is a reasonable request. Obviously it is not as easy in reality as it is in theory to address historical wrongs and do so with an even hand.
I don't have a dog in the hunt on the Black reparations issue, and I'm not here to pass judgment on the merits of their claims. But I do know that the issue will not play well with the general public as long as there is a price tag attached to it, the beneficiaries were not necessarily people who were directly impacted by the original mistakes, and there is no clear pathway for how to pay that bill and keep within budgets. It also bears asking how far down that road we seek or can afford to go once other groups historically wronged decide that they, too, deserve to be compensated.
We have a responsibility to do right by those who have been wronged. But we also can't give away what we do not have. We also can't discard the impact on voters who are as fatigued with perceived far-left causes as they are with the far-right agenda. That particular bill comes due on election day. Practicality must govern as we seek to bring politics back to the center of the spectrum.