Editors’ Blog

Your De-Trumping Story #9 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JO

All my life, during good presidencies and bad, the imagery of Washington has always meant something to me. Whether actually visiting, walking down the mall and gazing at the familiar buildings with a stirring of childhood patriotism, or seeing the famous façades in news photographs or paintings or movies, I’ve always responded emotionally. Not Bush, nor Reagan, nor even Nixon could besmirch the basic positive meaning of Washington, for me — I was a small child when Nixon resigned but it always seemed like, as bad as he was, the Presidency itself, on the most symbolic visual level, remained somehow untouched.

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Your De-Trumping Stories #8 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader WL

My own feelings on this relate to experiences I’ve had in my past living with alcoholics. When you live with a drinker, you just never know what you’re going to wake up to every morning, you’re not sure what that phone call you have coming in really means, and you become very sensitized to nuances in behavior that in normal situations pass unnoticed. This was much like my experience with the Trump presidency; every morning you would wake up and while still in bed wonder what news lay waiting on your feeds to shock or amaze you, More importantly, given the erratic nature of his behavior, what was waiting for you could be very extreme, life-changing events that couldn’t have been predicted, Certainly nothing like living under Biden, whose evenness of temper and rationality would give fair warning of any sort of upheaval.

It’s a good thing he was such a coward. We could have had things far worse if he had guts.

Your De-Trumping Stories #7 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JRM

Like you, I and my family have been largely unaffected in direct ways by the past 4 years. I’m white, straight, cis, and am retired with plenty of money. I haven’t had to deal with the cruelty and utter lack of concern for anyone not devoted to Trumpism in any direct way.

As a political junkie, the Trump years have been a long and painful shit-show, occsionally uplifted by his administration’s ham-handedness and general lack of skill causing more grandiose plans to crater spectacularly or, more commonly, just wither away as some new obsession took hold. But all that ability of mine to soldier on was predicated on his eventual loss in the 2020 election. And I followed every twist and turn of the election nearly obsessively.

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Your De-Trumping Stories #6 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader SR

In the late summer of 1991, I was at the beach with my best friend from law school and another friend in the midst of an exhausted drunken bender following the bar exam. People who go through any kind of professional licensure or credentialing exam after a course of instruction, or, I suspect, a dissertation defense know the sense of complete mental exhaustion, the feeling of recovering from having one’s mind and body completely drained, that follows weeks and weeks of grueling, high-intensity cramming for a high-stakes, high-pressure, high-difficulty test. What follows isn’t so much celebratory as an almost sullen lassitude and very inward directed focus because the exhaustion is the herald of uncertainty about the immediate fugure (“did I pass?”) and momentous life changes ahead regardless.

Into this stew dropped the news of the coup by old-school Soviet hardliners against Gorbachev.

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Where Things Stand: A GOP Day Of Reckoning Prime Badge
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By now we know that the meeting between Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did not quite go as the Republican leader hoped.

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Your De-Trumping Stories #5 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader SK

I’ll start with a tangent: I just learned that you were raised by a biologist. I’m an evolutionary biologist, some of my work is on reproductive behavioral ecology in primates. That evolutionary framework really helps understand Trump’s behavior, like you said! He barely behaves like a modern human (certainly an old testament human), more like a Gorilla or polygynous old world primate like a baboon where dominance is the only currency that matters.

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Your De-Trumping Stories #4 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader AG

I loathed Trump from the first time I was aware of him. I have always despised bullies, and Trump was the ne plus ultra of bullies. When he won in 2016, I was distraught at what American voters had done, and what the future would hold. Although I could not have guessed the details of what lay in store, the level of damage, outrage and devastation he caused were in line with my worst fears.

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Your De-Trumping Stories #3 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader BW

I remember very well your post from four years ago about living in the house of the abuser and how the abuser’s presence warps everyone else’s reality, because it so accurately reflected my own experience. My father verbally abused everyone and physically abused me, while my mother observed the abuse, normalized it, and made sure it got swept under the rug.

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Your De-Trumping Stories #2 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader MN

My post Trump reaction is surprising. While I was aware of a pulsing anxiety that had thrubbed through my psyche over the past four years, I was surprised how quickly the absence of the daily barrage of twitter madness would change things. Both my wife and I noted the morning after the inauguration was the first time we had slept easily in years. On some level we had accepted the daily madness, but hadn’t realized it had damaged our ability to sleep and that we had been living with a bigger ball of anxiety than we had acknowledged

Now our discussions revolve around what must happen over the next 2 years to lance the possibility of future demagoguery. Things Trump has clarified for us …

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Your De-Trumping Stories #1 Prime Badge

We start with TPM Reader EB. These are in response to this post from yesterday.

On one level, my experience of the end of the Trump presidency looks much like yours. Twitter banning him brought about a rather unexpected peace and quiet. I was expecting him to find some other platform to whine on (like Fox & Friends), and I expected the media to cover that as they have done in the past, and I fully expected him to continue after the election either whining more about how he didn’t lose or hyping up a 2024 run. That I don’t have to hear any of this is a welcome surprise.

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Pushing Marjorie Greene Off the Cliff

We’re now seeing what amounts to a ‘love that dare not say its name’ proxy battle over Trumpism and Donald Trump within the GOP. Only it’s being played out over two women, Reps. Marjorie Greene and Liz Cheney. Marjorie Greene is a disgrace. No question. She deserves every measure of calumny and denunciation she is receiving from folks like Mitch McConnell and others now sidling up close to McConnell. But everything Greene has said, done and endorsed has been similarly said, done and endorsed by Donald Trump. Indeed, Trump is literally endorsing her! The heat shield around her, holding up at least for the moment, is built around the “GREAT call” she and Trump had over the weekend. Greene is Trump and Trump is Greene. So Greene – who deserves every censure – amounts to the scape goat some Republicans are trying to push off the cliff to expiate the sins of Donald Trump, who they can never cross.

Where Things Stand: Willing To Listen To Anyone, Anything Prime Badge
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In the waning weeks and days of Trump’s presidency, we knew from his public statements and retweets of widely debunked conspiracy theories that he had little left to work with in his push to overturn the election.

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What Is Your De-Trumping Story? Prime Badge
HARRISBURG, PA - JANUARY 17: A cardboard effigy of President Donald Trump is lowered while people demonstrate against the president outside the Pennsylvania Capitol Building on January 17, 2021 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Supporters of President Trump are expected to gather at state capitol buildings throughout the nation today to protest the presidential election results and the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

There is an understandable and wise desire not to breathe too big a sigh of relief. Most of us realize that the reality and threat of Trumpism is far from over. Indeed, there could even be another Trump presidency in four years, though I think that’s quite unlikely. I want to ask you something different: How have you experienced the end of Trump’s presidency? I mean at a basic experiential level.

As much as I have written about the centrality, power and chaotic force of Trump’s Twitter feed I was not prepared for the impact of his account being suspended in early January, a couple weeks ahead of Biden’s inauguration. It was like he just ceased to exist and I voice I’d heard – literally or figuratively – barking in my head for more than five years just went silent. From what I can tell it hit him just as powerfully. Losing his twitter megaphone seems to have undone him.

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Where Things Stand: More Proof Red States Welcoming Federal Vaccine Help Prime Badge
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Austerity be damned in the age of COVID-19.

That’s the messaging from at least one Republican governor who just this morning said that being fiscally responsible at this point no longer matters as the nation reels from more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths and an economy on life-support.

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The GOP Civil War That Doesn’t Exist

We’re seeing a lot of GOP in disarray stories. They’re entertaining and individually contain some valuable information. But the GOP is not in disarray. There’s no GOP civil war. Indeed, for a party that just lost the presidency and the one house of Congress the party is united to an almost historically unprecedented degree. And it’s getting more united, not less, as we go forward. The only commotion are the punitive expeditions being mounted against the handful of renegades who briefly turned on Trump by supporting impeachment or making other conspicuous gestures of disloyalty.

Convergent Evolution Prime Badge

One of the uncanny features of the COVID Pandemic – certainly one of the great events of all of our lifetimes – is the mix of horror and fascination one experiences learning new dimensions of the scourge. One of these for me has been watching scientists unravel the details of the new COVID variants now galloping around the globe, a sprint of investigative work only possible with the powerful genomic analysis tools that didn’t even exist a few decades ago. (In 1918, science didn’t even know there was such a thing as viruses. Or rather viruses weren’t recognized as distinct from bacterial infection.)

For me the big fascination and warning sign has been the new discussion of ‘convergent evolution’.

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Note What This Means Prime Badge

I think something is getting lost in the discussion of Trump’s Impeachment 2.0 lawyers quitting. They reportedly bailed because they were unwilling to argue Trump’s lies about the election being stolen. But arguing the election was stolen amounts to an affirmative defense of the events of January 6th. In other words, Trump isn’t guilty not because he didn’t incite the insurrection but because the incitement and the insurrection were justified.

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Where Things Stand: Easier To Coup Prime Badge
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On an election night where the President thought things were going well, Arizona quickly stood out as a sore spot.

Not only did Trump hope to win the state, it was his once-beloved Fox News that called Arizona for Biden first. Trump was reportedly irate and tried to pressure the cable news network to reverse the call.

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The GOP Is Rapidly Making Its Way to Embrace of the Insurrection

What we see most clearly today is the GOP moving quickly to align itself with the instigators of the January 6 insurrection and the coup plotters who laid the groundwork for it. This may seem like hyperbole, but it is not. Kevin McCarthy, who earlier this month was saying President Trump bore responsibility for instigating the assault, is now making his pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to meet with the disgraced former President and secure his blessing. The only Republicans who stood clearly against the insurrection – like Liz Cheney – are being purged from the party. Trumpist luminaries like Tucker Carlson are already mocking the fears of representatives who feared they’d be murdered on January 6. (That’s right out of the rightist troll culture where you’re blamed for the predation against you for “not getting it.”) Senators like Ted Cruz say it’s time to move on from this violent assault that happened a mere three weeks ago and was instigated by a President who left office one week ago.

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A Democracy Agenda… Because Your Political Life Depends on It Prime Badge

Several times in November I argued the critical importance of Democrats embracing a Democracy Agenda that embodies their entire policy and political agenda in the months and years ahead – here, here and here. It goes without saying today that the country needs more democracy rather than less. I wrote these posts before we saw the shocking spectacle of a sitting President leading a violent siege against the seat of government to prevent the majority from governing.

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Where Things Stand: Hill Staffers And Members Linger In Fear Together Prime Badge
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) just made a stunning and pointed remark about the very real fears that House members are facing regarding security of the Capitol in the aftermath of the insurrection: “the enemy is within the House of Representatives.”

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So Far So Good Prime Badge

For a decade Democrats have been living within an evolving debate, obsession, recriminations and general chair-kicking about the lessons of the Obama years. They can be put simply: Democrats engaging in good faith negotiations with Republicans, operating within existing legislative norms, and getting played every time. Everyone in politics is capable of concocting self-serving narratives. But this one is largely true. From 2009 to 2015, when Republicans finally took control of the Senate, the model was clear: bargain Dems down (usually with some bipartisan ‘gang’), run out the clock and then don’t actually support the whittled down compromise after all that. An added bonus for Republicans: running down the clock was usually enough for the public mood to turn sour. So when they bailed out there was no cost. When it came time to act the public had often turned against action. It all came to a head in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Mitch McConnell simply refused to entertain any nominations at all. Impossible. Unthinkable. And it happened and that was that. The price McConnell paid was a stolen Supreme Court seat.

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Where Things Stand: The McConnell-Trump Judicial Scheme Is Already Harming Biden Prime Badge
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The Senate minority leader may be trying to distance himself from former President Trump now. But the damage has already been done.

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Where Things Stand: A Think Tank For Trumpism Prime Badge
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While the broader GOP weighs just how much distance to put between itself and Trump, some of the former president’s most loyal political allies are working to cement his ideological influence in politics.

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Chalk Up a Win for Schumer Prime Badge

So, interesting developments over night in the Senate. Both sides are portraying the agreement as a win. But basically McConnell caved. So chalk up a win for Chuck Schumer.

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Where Things Stand: How Will Ohio Swing Post-Trump? Prime Badge
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News of Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) retirement could be grounds for the latest reassessment of the historically-purple-but-lately-pretty-red state.

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Senate Democrats Have a Choice

(First, I’d be grateful for tips, leads, info on the below from any and all regular senate – and now White House – sources either by email or secure channels.)

Democrats, particularly Senate Democrats, already face a stark choice about those “ground rules” I mentioned last week. As noted then, what’s at stake isn’t only effective action today but the ground rules that will shape the next two years and either doom or give Democrats a fighting chance in the 2022 midterms. Last night the Post ran a story headlined: “Fight over the rules grinds the Senate to a halt, imperiling Biden’s legislative agenda“. It’s part of an emerging genre about bulging to-do lists, Republican game-playing and impeachment trials slowing the Senate to a crawl.

What’s happening exactly?

Quite simply, Mitch McConnell is now using the filibuster to stop Democrats from becoming the Senate majority.

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Ideas for Moving Forward Prime Badge

A few thoughts and suggestions for moving forward in the Biden era, in no particular order.
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Where Things Stand: There’s A Reason Trump’s Impeachment Lawyer Sounds Familiar Prime Badge
Gov. Nikki Haley's attorney Butch Bowers addresses the S.C. House Ethics committee during day one of the committee's investigation into Gov. Nikki Haley at the Solomon Blatt Building in Columbia, South Carolina, Thursday, June 28, 2012. (C. Aluka Berry/The State/MCT)

Remember Mark Sanford? If you were a Golden Duke: Duke of Dukes voter this last time around, you most certainly will.

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What is National Unity? Prime Badge

Republicans began by resorting to coups and even violent insurrections to overturn the 2020 election. Having failed at that they are now glomming on to Joe Biden’s focus on national ‘unity’ to insist that Democrats overturn it on their behalf by agreeing to the absurd proposition that unity means forgetting the 2020 election even happened. Most of us intuitively know that is a bad faith gambit. But it’s worth articulating what national unity means and does not.

Donald Trump, former President and current GOP leader, governed by making war on the so-called ‘blue states’. Supporters got cash and assistance, opponents got punished. This was a through-line from the first days of Trump’s presidency and the scope and consequences became more open and grotesque during the COVID pandemic.

Unity means governing on behalf of all Americans, not treating half the country like enemies. In the nature of things Biden’s vision of what to prioritize will match the platform he ran on. There are myriad particulars but in general more social spending, more focus on equity and social justice, renewed commitment to confronting the climate crisis. That is what happens when you win an election. That’s democracy, not divisiveness.

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