The Strangest Presidential Election Year We’ve Ever Endured

INSIDE: Hope Hicks ... Todd Blanche ... Rudy G
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump carries boxes of pizza for the FDNY Engine 2, Battalion 8 firehouse on May 02, 2024 in New York City. Trump delivered ... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump carries boxes of pizza for the FDNY Engine 2, Battalion 8 firehouse on May 02, 2024 in New York City. Trump delivered pizza to a firehouse after a court appearance in his hush money trial, which started with a hearing where prosecutors argued that Judge Juan Merchan should find Trump in criminal contempt again for violating a gag order. Earlier this week, Trump was found in contempt for nine violations of his April 1 order prohibiting criticism of witnesses and jurors. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Embrace The Uncertainty

As we come to the end of a difficult week, it’s becoming obvious that daily news coverage isn’t sufficient to capture what a deeply strange period we’re living through.

The former president is on criminal trial for making hush-money payments to a porn star he says he didn’t have sex with, while trying to stave off the three other criminal prosecutions he faces. At the same time, he is promising more post-election criminality if he loses in 2024, which is the very thing two of the remaining prosecutions are seeking to convict him for having done in 2020.

Not content to merely replay his first term, he is promising a second presidency that will be authoritarian to its core. It begins with the premise that he must exact retribution against all who have wronged him, including prosecuting the current president whom he falsely claims is behind his own legal turmoil. From there, he swears he will target disfavored classes of people – immigrants, the press, anyone whose fealty to him he perceives to be insufficient – abusing the powers of his office to inflict pain and suffering to the delight of his supporters. He is also determined to harness the full powers of the federal government in pursuit of personal political and private ends, even and perhaps especially if that means breaking government in the process.

In the meantime, the coverage of the current president is the same tired analysis, worn thin by overuse, and utterly oblivious to the looming authoritarian threat. Complexities like post-pandemic economic policy are reduced to a thin gruel of “inflation is bad for incumbents.” The nightmarishly difficult Israel-Palestine conflict is more easily covered as an American political story about law and order, and so campus protests are forced to stand in as a poor proxy for the actual conflict in the Middle East.

In the face of what almost certainly is a significant historical moment that is full of uncertainty and unpredictability, we grasp for ways to make sense of it all but what we grab ahold of for comfort and security is oversimplification, reductiveness, and cliches. Rather than rising to the moment, we just try to cover our eyes and soothe our souls so we can endure it. It’s a temptation that’s hard to resist.

It’s in moments like these that the overconfident diagnoses and simplistic solutions of someone like Donald Trump hold their greatest allure. He offers certainty amidst the chaos, even if he has no idea what he’s talking about and doesn’t have the skill or capability to do anything about it. He’s a chaos monster: the more of it he creates, the greater the need for the snake oil palliatives he offers. He’ll make you sick to sell you his bogus curatives.

This is all happening against the backdrop of the even bigger existential threat than Donald Trump: climate change. The environmental catastrophe already underway adds layers of uncertainty that we may have never encountered before as a species. It dwarfs our political chaos. It feeds the anxiousness that makes us seek solid ground, some permanence, a place above whatever the new high water mark may turn out to be. For many people, it’s easier to find immediate security in a Trump (even if that means drowning later) than enduring the uncertainty, trying to make sense of it all, and doing the hard work of piecing together solutions.

So don’t get too caught up in the day-to-day news. There lies madness. Embrace the uncertainty, live with the dis-ease that comes with not knowing, and forswear the cheap and easy fixes offered by tawdry figures who prey on the victims of the chaos they create.

Trump Trial Continues Today

TPM’s Josh Kovensky is back this morning in the courthouse, where former Trump White House aide Hope Hicks is expected to testify in the hush money trial.

In case you missed them, Josh’s two dispatches from the trial yesterday:

  • Lead Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche admitted for just a moment on Thursday that his client was his own worst enemy.
  • The jury in Donald Trump’s criminal trial on Thursday were introduced to a coterie of 2010-era celebrities that included Tila Tequila, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and Hulk Hogan.

Trump Sets Stage For 2024 Big Lie Redux

Donald Trump is still out there promising to “fight” to overturn the 2024 election if he deems it fraudulent, which is to say: if he loses.

It Can Be Done

Ari Berman: How Michigan Ended Minority Rule

Keep An Eye On This One

In the upcoming May 14 GOP primary in West Virginia, a convicted Jan. 6 rioter is trying to knock off incumbent Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV).

Rudy G Still Playing Games In Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy proceedings are offering a new – yet quite incomplete by his own design – glimpse into Rudy Giuliani’s personal finances.

No Dice

Ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, charged by Special Counsel David Weiss with fabricating lies about the Bidens, must remain in jail pending trial, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

Abortion Watch

WaPo: Texas man files legal action to probe ex-partner’s out-of-state abortion

Methodists Play Catch Up On Inclusion

What remains of the United Methodist Church has voted to end its anti-LGBT policies, including its ban on gay clergy and its penalties against clergy who conduct same-sex marriages.

Warmest April On Record

It was the 11th consecutive month of record-setting global temperatures

Approaching 2,200 And Counting …

Nearly 2,200 people have been arrested nationwide this week in the crackdown on campus protests over Israel-Gaza

Try To Have A Good Weekend!

It was a tough week. We end it with Pokey LaFarge’s ode to Michael Brown:

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