That’s how House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) colleagues are describing him these days, as he fields the whims of a mercurial former president who he’s determined he needs in order to keep his political ambitions alive.
From TPM Reader EA …
I wanted to inject more of a sense of hope into our reflections on the Post-Trump era. I am a professor at a large public midwestern university. I am inspired by college students today. When I started teaching, in the 1980s, my students’ major ambition was to make a lot of money. My students today are concerned about careers of course, but they aspire to more than that. I see a rising political consciousness in widespread concern about climate change, global justice, racism, misogyny, LGBTQ rights, and much more, which has been building for about 10 years. They are incredibly talented, energetic, thoughtful, and ready to pour themselves into projects to make the world better.
We start with the fact that the right to individual gun ownership, enshrined by the Supreme Court since 2008, is a novel manufacture, not something any court or reasonable person thought existed prior to NRA activism of recent decades. Now the Supreme Court has chosen to hear a case which could manufacture an individual right to carry weapons outside the home in every state in the country. In other words, national and automatic ‘concealed carry’.
Remember Cleta Mitchell?
If you’ve been following our voting rights, voter suppression, ‘vote fraud’ bamboozlement coverage over the last couple decades you likely do. But even if not, you don’t have to back that far. She was the President’s legal advisor on that notorious January 2nd call with Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the soon-to-be ex-President demanded Raffensperger “find” the votes he needed to change the result in Georgia. Mitchell’s participation in that call and the subsequent insurrection, which constituted the last gasp of the President’s efforts, led to what was presumably Mitchell’s forced resignation from the law firm Foley & Lardner. She also appears to be under scrutiny in the Fulton County DA’s investigation into the aforementioned call and potential solicitation of election fraud.
But things are looking up for Mitchell!
As usual, you really came through, sending me to a host of links, studies and datasets which look at the interaction between rates of vaccination and impact on COVID spread. For now I’m going to mainly pass on to you what’s been shared with me. That makes more sense than waiting on me to digest and make sense of it all.
On the core question, Israel seems to have reached a tipping point when just under 60% of the total population had received at least one shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Case counts have continued to plummet since then, even in the face of aggressive reopening. If we combine vaccination-immunity with a substantial portion of the population having infection-acquired immunity, that could push the level of population immunity up toward or over 70%. That gets into the range epidemiologists consider necessary for herd immunity. Since that phrase has become so contested, perhaps it’s better to say simply that at that level Israel continues to see rapid declines in case loads even in the face of widespread reopening of normal social life/activity. Thursday was the first day in the country with zero COVID fatalities since June.
One thing I am curious to see but have not yet found are good models or studies which draw connections between declining COVID case counts and the progress of vaccination. For what I assume are obvious reasons I follow the data in New York State most closely. New York’s numbers were coming down quickly early in 2021 but then plateaued and even ticked up somewhat. This was seemingly an interaction between rising vaccination rates, aggressive reopening and the spread of more contagious variants. Over recent weeks those numbers have resumed their rapid decline.
From TPM Reader HL …
I feel I’ve weathered the transition fairly well. After many years of watching evening MSNBC, I essentially stopped watching the night after Ruth Bader Ginzburg died, and shifted all my newsgathering to the written form from Twitter to actual newspapers. I felt less harried and no less informed, and paved the way for a presidency I don’t have to worry about.
From TPM Reader IG …
This moment has me thinking about the feeling that we’ve been robbed of time. People like to talk about the odd way in which 2020 feels as if it was both endless and just didn’t happen at all. I’ve only recently stopped saying “last summer” when I really mean the summer of 2019. But, the truth is, the whole of the last five years of Trumpism feel this way. If this really is the end of the Trump era then it is still like we just gave away half a decade of our lives to this all-consuming negativity.
From TPM Reader PJ …
I’m with a lot of your readers. While I think the day to day is less punctuated by evental feelings of panic and worry, things are bad and not sure to get worse. We have a very undemocratic political system. The more democratic elements of our system carry most of their potential in how a judiciary might find them to be very expansive, but that judiciary is owned by the right. I think in 2009 the GOP triggered the Doomsday Machine. The rabid anti-Obama partisanship, the debt ceiling debacles in the years that followed, right-wing enthusiasm for racist police killings, GamerGate, Trump’s rise, the final removal of the mask of respectability of the Republican Party…the white masculine death machine is on the march. Just consider the judiciary….even if we got the Fantasyland Biden of our dreams, how much of what he does will hold up to right-wing judicial review? We’re talking about a court system that might take us back to a pre-Lochner territory, eliminate the governmental ability to delegate regulatory authority to executive agencies…this is return to Medieval stuff.
In this on-going series of posts on ‘Making Sense of the Post-Trump Era’ I should be clear that I don’t mean this to prejudge the question. I mean ‘post-Trump’ only in the very narrow sense of the period after Trump left the White House. I think it’s very much an open question – one implicit or explicit in almost all your emails – whether we’re really “post” at all.
For my part, I increasingly think that we are ‘post-Trump’ in terms of the man himself. I think defeat just gutted him. The GOP remains in his thrall but much more as a placeholder or symbol than as someone actively engaged in national politics. But it’s not really about the man himself, at least not mainly. It’s about the civic degeneracy that created him and which galvanized, brought into light of day and made aware of itself.
As Republicans — led by former President Trump — peddled lies about a stolen election and rampant voter fraud post-November, Georgia still had two runoff elections to conduct. And there was much speculation at the time about whether the Big Lie might actually harm Republican chances in the state.
From TPM Reader MG …
You asked, “What Sense Are You Making of the Post-Trump Era?”
Well, there is simply a mixture of relief and apprehension.
The relief is for the obvious things: The relatively smooth deployments of the Covid vaccines, a steady hand at the helm of state, government doing what the federal government should do, no more intentional twitter eruptions and all of that. Considering where we were on January 20th, it is immensely comforting to be where we are right now.
From TPM Reader JE, a rather different take on the question, less political outlook than deeply personal, inter-personal experience …
So, by far the biggest outcome for me from the “Post Trump Era” (and to some extent I need to move the date back to November 2016 to describe this fully) is the realization that a lot of middle class white Americans (I’m in that group) are still racist as hell. Prior to that the racism was couched in careful language, was eased out with a nod and a wink that indicated that maybe someone still wasn’t on board with the modern state of the world.
From TPM Reader KG …
I’ve enjoyed reading the replies to your question, but I have a somewhat different take. As a 79-year old white female I’ve seen remarkable changes in the country. Change being the operative word. My first brush with politics came on a train carrying Harry Truman, who I watched speak while sitting on my father’s shoulders. I’ve been a political junky ever since.
One of the many things I do at TPM is occasionally write emails to inspire people to become TPM members, re-up if they’ve lapsed or just thank them for being members already. I wrote one of these this morning and I thought I’d share it. I do so in part because it would be great if you could join up if you’re not currently a member but even more because writing one of these out gives me an opportunity to — forces me to — place TPM in the current moment and say why I think it matters.
Take a look.
Thank you to everyone who’s sent in their reads on making sense of the post-Trump Era. I’ll be publishing more this afternoon. Keep them coming. My interest in soliciting these notes is that we are in a confused and confusing political-historical moment. It’s important to untangle that for anyone who is concerned about the country and civic life. It’s even more pressing for a news organization.
We owe a great deal to the insights and knowledge we gain from the social sciences, with their modeling, systems creation and statistics. But at core humans are a story-telling species. We organize the world around us through storylines, narrative arcs, the actions of individuals, the interplay of actions and reactions through time. This isn’t to embrace a “great man” theory of history. It’s not a comment on how history works. It’s a statement about how our brains apprehend, understand things – how we take the discrete facts we find and put them together into something that tells us something. Nor is it to relativize contending ‘narratives’, something that has long been the province of certain parts of the academic world and through a strange alchemy is now also pervasive on the right. Some narratives are truer than others. Many are deeply false. It is simply that we understand most intuitively through storylines, through the progression of events and the actions of people.
A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast just landed. You can listen to it here.
This week, Josh and Kate discuss the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial and take their first listener question.
The most obviously bad parts of the Georgia voting law are seen, by voters of both parties, as obviously bad, according to a new poll.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have created a special section at Dodger Stadium for fans who are fully vaccinated. A few other teams have introduced similar set asides. This is a good idea and we need more of it. The reward for being vaccinated should be to get back to life as usual as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Now that vaccines are pretty widely available for people 16 and over there’s no reason you should need to be seated near or with others who’ve chosen not to get vaccinated when you’re enjoying a ball game.
From TPM Reader BS …
I had hoped that this time might be different. That on the rebound from Trump, we might see some truly transformational legislation. That the filibuster would be scrapped, D.C. would be granted statehood, the right to vote would be protected and expanded, and the courts would significantly unwound from their recent rightward corkscrew. Mainly, though, I had what I knew to be an irrational hope that there would be action on climate sufficient to fit the moment.
From TPM Reader JB …
I always wanted to believe Trump was a last desperate charge of Old White Men in a losing a 50 year (or 150 year) war to retain their monopoly on power. Demographics are against them. Young people lean against them. Women lean against them. Black and Brown people lean against them. Cities against. Coasts against. The educated against. They know it. They fear it. They hate it. Voting for Trump was supposed to be a giant fuck you on their way out — half curse, half joke. But he won, it went to their heads, and they tried to end the game before losing it.
From TPM Reader EF …
I have been very heartened by Biden. The legislative success of the stimulus, the competence shown with the vaccine rollout, and the upcoming stimulus bill point to the possibility of people rediscovering that government can make a difference in their lives.
Excited to announce that we’re hiring for a newly created position: Editor for Content Strategy and Audience Development. This editor will help nourish and grow the TPM community. I think you’re going to like what this new role will enable us to do. We want a fantastic new teammate, so help us out. Please spread the word to your sharpest, most talented friends and colleagues – and put in a good word for us. Thanks.
Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd last night, the first verdict of its kind in a landmark case that inspired a wave of protests across the nation last summer against police brutality and systemic racism.
A few hours later, the St. Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey — who become known for standing barefoot outside his home alongside his wife last summer as the two pointed weapons at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters — told Politico that he was considering a Senate bid in Missouri.
“I can confirm that it’s a consideration, yes,” McCloskey reportedly said Tuesday evening.
Recently, Justin Levitt, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and an expert on constitutional jurisprudence and voting rights issues, was named White House Senior Policy Advisor for Democracy & Voting Rights by President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. In February, Levitt joined Josh and Tierney for an Inside Briefing to discuss his thoughts on the state of elections in the United States, voting rights issues, and the importance of institutions in a democracy. Members can watch the discussion after the jump. Read More
There are a host of articles today about the US reaching a vaccination tipping point at which the key challenge is no longer the supply of vaccine but the supply of people willing to take it. Like “herd immunity” it isn’t a binary, clear-cut moment. It’s incremental. We’re approaching it now and the challenge will accelerate over the next two to four weeks. In many ways this challenge is a product of our success. In January I don’t think anyone thought we’d have widespread availability and half of all adults vaccinated in April. But we did it.
I’m working my way through your emails on making sense of the post-Trump Era. Please keep them coming. (See the linked post for more details.) They are fascinating but like the topic itself they are hard to bring into focus. There are common themes but they are elusive. I will be publishing a number of them. But I wanted to start with this note from TPM Reader CC, who lives in Australia. It’s a very different perspective given that’s from someone in a foreign country on the other side of the world. But I found it very interesting as a window into what America now looks like from abroad …
“It’s not exactly my vision,” former President George W. Bush said of his Party during a live interview with NBC’s “Today” show this morning.