Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

You may have seen this quite sad but also quite revealing article in The Washington Post about the collapse of the Rubio campaign. It's fascinating piece. But the central element of the story is that what Byron York aptly called Rubio's post-South Carolina "personality transplant" (I prefer to think of it as a firmware upgrade) was the turning point of his campaign and what really did him in. The additional critical element, according to the WaPo piece, is that big GOP donors were aghast when they saw Rubio go on his multi-day tear of sophomoric insults against Donald Trump.

But I don't buy that for a second.

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We're listening to the Senate Judiciary meeting discuss the Republican refusal to hold any hearings on President Obama's forthcoming Supreme Court nominee. (You can see running updates in Livewire over to the right.) The number of phony historical precedents, misleading analogies and just flat out bullshit Republicans are coming up with is frankly amazing - not surprising but amazing in its creativity. Everybody knows what's happening. Everyone knows this is an entirely new thing. The stakes are high, yes. Everybody gets that. Apparently high enough to completely upend the practice of two centuries and at best ignore clear constitutional injunctions. But this again demonstrates that there's no point talking to people who are committed to bullshit.

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I thought both candidates in tonight's debate did fairly well for themselves, which is to say they were able to convey their key political strengths, touch key points for their supporters, and so forth. In that sense it was probably a wash in electoral terms. Each candidate's supporters were confirmed in their support. And I did not have the sense that either stood out dramatically from the other in a way that would push late deciding primary voters in one direction or another. The only point I would add to this is that coming off his upset win last night in Michigan, Sanders seemed much more in this election than he did a few days ago. So he seemed much more like an equal sharing the stage with Hillary Clinton. That matters.

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10:43 PM: Man, that was a cheap shot question - how is your socialism different from Cuba's and Nicaragua's socialism? (And yes, I'm having a flashback to the lefty mags I read in high school.)

10:50 PM: That Cuba/Sanders video and that exchange is something that scares a lot of Democrats. You can talk about red-baiting and swift-boating type politics. And I'm sure there'd be no end of that. But Sanders comes out of what is a very counter-cultural strand of late 20th century American politics. I know because I sort of come out of it too, at least I grew up in it. There's a lot that is very standard in that world that sounds very alien to a lot of American voters. This is a fact. Agree with it or not, it is a fact. I think many Democrats quite legitimately worry that by going through this history of statements Republicans would be able to disqualify Sanders with a significant number of voters.

10:56 PM: As important as this debate is, here's a picture of Marco Rubio today talking to a nearly Florida stadium.

10:14 PM: Sort of a silly question on establishment/career politicians. But very good answer from Sanders.

10:17 PM: Moderators are just terrible. If you ask a question, don't arbitrarily call time is up in the middle of a sentence. The point of a debate is to have the candidates debate, to keep them on top, to press them on incomplete answers. If you're constantly interrupting the candidates when they're in the midst of answering your question you're doing it wrong.

10:25 PM: Clinton and Sanders are in a good exchange here where both are enunciating their key agendas very clearly. Hopefully the moderators won't make them stop.

10:28 PM: Sanders is wrong when he says that Republicans are climate deniers because they're "afraid to take on the fossil fuel industry." They're a lot of things. But if you think that, you fundamentally misjudge contemporary politics. They're not parroting fossil fuel industry talking points because they're afraid they won't get political money. They're doing that because they've completely embraced anti-environmental, anti-science politics and made it a central part of conservative political identity. Climate change isn't true because the liberals and the scientists say it is true and government action, especially government action that may impose any costs, is always wrong. Money is obviously a big, big part of it. But it buttresses something that is deeply embedded in conservative ideology and would remain there, even if in a weakened form, if there was no money from the fossil fuel industry at all.

9:40 PM: In their debate exchange over immigration, Clinton and Sanders are basically bending over backwards to find something to disagree about on immigration.

9:42 PM: This is the issue they were jousting about over the 'Minutemen' vigilantes.

9:46 PM: Admittedly tough position that Clinton has wondered into needing to figure out what on earth the Trump Taj MaWall actually is.

9:55 PM: That was a pretty tough question but I think Clinton answered it about as well as she could (the honesty question).

9:59 PM: We're in the midst of a profound moderator fail here - both insisting on interrupting a good exchange and also not being able to do so.

9:16 PM: I must say these questions are pretty barbed.

9:22 PM: This is more like an interrogation than a debate.

9:23 PM: There's clearly some level of shift in Sanders' opinion on the immigration issue, which broadly matches the shift in labor-liberal opinion on this issue. But saying Sanders is somehow a hypocrite about being pro-immigrant for opposing a guest worker program just doesn't wash.