Where Things Stand: J.D. Vance Is Just A Trump Body Double At This Point

This is your TPM evening briefing.
SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 12: JD Vance, venture capitalist and author of 'Hillbilly Elegy,' attends the second day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, ... SUN VALLEY, ID - JULY 12: JD Vance, venture capitalist and author of 'Hillbilly Elegy,' attends the second day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world's most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS

QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) recently endorsed “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance’s bid for the Republican nomination in Ohio’s Senate race. And as he continues his descent into Trumpian madness, he’s welcoming the far-right lawmaker’s support — and all the white nationalist ties that come with it — with open, orange-tinted arms.

It’s quaint now, but I wrote a bit here about my impression of Vance from the perspective of a young person living in a small conservative town in the Midwest at the time. I was once cautiously stirred by “Hillbilly Elegy” for what it did to seemingly usher-in a new wave of nuance surrounding conservative intellectualism. But I was also deeply skeptical of his approach to Republican values; a style that seemed far too generous to the GOP during an era in which the conservative movement largely shrugged off the vile and racist rhetoric overpowering the party.

But pundits across the political spectrum lionized Vance for what they saw as a fresh ability to explain a certain type of blue-collar Republican to confused Ivy Leaguers and “establishment” elites who had never met one.

Since the release of his memoir in 2016, Vance has become unrecognizable as he shape shifts into a bombastic, anti-establishment caricature of Trumpism to attract a far-right base of voters ahead of Ohio’s crowded primary. And just yesterday, he solidified his devotion to this new alter-ego, which, is basically just who he is now.

After Greene announced she was backing Vance, the GOP candidate was questioned about the endorsement at a debate in Ohio Monday night — the event featured his primary rivals, like Josh Mandel, the former state treasurer, investment banker Mike Gibbons and others. Vance addressed questions about Greene’s speech at the America First Political Action Conference last month, an event hosted by the well-known white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Greene and her colleague Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) both delivered remarks at the event and have since been criticized by lawmakers across the aisle for the appearance, including by Republican leadership. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reacted to news of their addresses by saying, “there’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called their participation in the event “appalling,” but has done little to punish the two for their behavior beyond … an incredibly pathetic slap on the wrist.

But fear not, Vance has their back — or at least Greene’s. Referring to Greene as a “friend” last night, Vance declared the congresswoman — who has turned her role as a lawmaker into a platform for annoying everyone in the Republican caucus, spreading vicious conspiracy theories and calling for violence against her colleagues — “did nothing wrong.”

“The accusation against Marjorie is pretty simple: that she appeared at a conference where somebody said something bad,” he said, referencing Holocaust-denier Fuentes, who used the event last month to lament that America has abandoned “young white men” and to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Did she say something bad at the conference?” Vance continued. “I actually watched her remarks, I agreed with nearly every word that she said.

“There’s no business in the world that asks you to stab your friends in the back like politics. I absolutely refuse to do it to Marjorie Taylor Greene,” he said. “She is my friend, and she did nothing wrong. She said nothing wrong, and I’m absolutely not going to throw her under the bus, or anybody else who is a friend of mine.”

While Vance’s abrupt messaging pivot ahead of his Senate bid might’ve once invited speculation that he had simply joined the ranks of the faceless men in Braavos, the mask is now permanent, shoddily superglued over whatever half-respected visage once existed underneath.

The Best Of TPM Today

Here’s what you should read this evening:

A must-read from Josh Kovensky: It’s High Time We Revisited Manafort’s Dirty Work In Ukraine

Shot — Catch up on our live coverage here: Liveblog: About That Hours-Long Gap In Trump’s Jan. 6 Call Logs…

Chaser: Trump Was 100% Making Phone Calls During the Jan. 6 Attack: Here’s The List

A headline you prob def needed to see today: GOPers Dare Cawthorn To Name Names As He Flings Around Cocaine And Orgy Accusations

Trump Was Repeatedly Warned His Attacks On 2020 Election Results Could Spark Violence On Jan. 6, Cheney Says

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Trump Likely Committed Obstruction Of Congress, Judge Rules — Josh Kovensky

What We Are Reading

Oscars: What Was Happening in the ABC Control Room as Will Smith Slapped Chris Rock — Michael Schneider

How Fringe Conspiracy Theories Invaded the Ketanji Brown Jackson Hearings — Dahlia Lithwick

Ocasio-Cortez to Clarence Thomas: Resign or face impeachment — John Kruzel

Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: