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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

This evening we learned that President Trump went on a rage bender in a call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, berated the PM, boasted repeatedly about the scale of his electoral win and hung up on Turnbull abruptly 25 minutes into what was scheduled to be an hour long conversation. In a similarly hostile call, Trump threatened to invade Mexico and have US military personnel secure the country if Mexico's military was afraid to do so.

Donald Trump's 'war' with CNN has been the most consistent media-bashing theme from him for the last 18 months. But it is as phony as they come. CNN has quite simply been more compliant with Trump than any other news organization. This isn't a knock at the journalists. Some of them recently have been quite good. And I wouldn't say, in general, that they've been worse than their cable news colleagues. But from the business and programming side they've been the most accommodating. Think about it. What other network has a permanent list of pro-Trump pundits on payroll?

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When we think about the politics of this moment and how we can predict, even in general outlines, what is to come, the most salient question is whether political gravity still exists and functions. By any historical standard, President Trump is almost catastrophically unpopular. Presidents enter office with high approval ratings, usually well over 60%. By most measures, Trump is already under 40%. Presidents seldom get more popular than they were at the outset.

By every standard, Trump is courting even greater unpopularity and sowing the seeds of an electoral backlash in two years. And yet, history shouldn't have allowed us to get here in the first place. By most conventional wisdom it should have been extremely difficult for Donald Trump to be elected President. And yet he was. So today people on both sides of the ideological divide - half emboldened, the other half demoralized - think that political gravity simply doesn't apply anymore.

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For all the pyrotechnics at the Justice Department today, this may be the bigger story. There's been confusion over the last three days over whether Republicans on Capitol Hill were briefed, consulted or involved in writing President Trump's now infamous immigration executive order. The White House has said they were. Republicans on the Hill said the first they heard of it was in news reports.

Now we have an explanation.

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As a friend noted last night, this Times article about Steve Bannon is as much about Mike Flynn as Bannon. It's good news, bad news. Good news: Flynn is already being sidelined in his role as National Security Advisor. Bad news: he's being supplanted by Steve Bannon.

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This is a delicate, unlovely point. But I believe it is an important one to make sense of the present moment. People do ugly things when they are scared - both individuals and great masses of people. After 9/11, the US dramatically clamped down on immigration - in some ways that were sensible, in other ways that were simply wrong. But the country had just seen thousands of its citizens slaughtered in a daring and catastrophic terrorist attack in the heart of one of its greatest cities. So much ugly and self-destructive grew out of that moment, much of which still provides the context of the world we live in and struggle with today. But for those of us who were well into adulthood at the time, the sense of threat and danger in late September 2001 were palpable. People were scared and they were angry.

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One thing to note with everything we're seeing this weekend. Folks like Reince Priebus were supposed to be the ones to keep the Trump White House on something like the straight and narrow. That never really made sense to me. But that was the idea. That is clearly not happening. But as a colleague pointed out to me this evening, it's Priebus who is the most visible cheerleader defending the ugliest and most feral Trump White House actions. He was out today defending the egregious de-Judaized Holocaust statement. He's insisting the weekend immigration debacle is making America great again. He's not just on board. He's the top cheerleader.

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Are we really here? Is all this happening? Don't be surprised. What we're seeing now is frankly everything we should have expected. If there's one thing we can say in Donald Trump's favor, there was no bait and switch. They told us they would do all of this and more. Not everyone believed them. But everyone had fair warning. And here we are.

I've told you we are investing big in expanded investigative reporting in TPM's signature iterative style. We are deep into putting together the different building blocks of our new team and operation. I hope to have some announcements soon.

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