A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Our Dinner With Trump
The defining political story of the holiday weekend was former President Trump’s dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes.
The coverage was all so predictable and rehearsed, like the coverage of a school shooting: an unsatisfying response to an intractable and recurring problem.
The most valuable part of the coverage was the fact that the dinner happened.
- The dinner was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
- The news of the dinner for four at the ex-president’s beachside resort trickled out in bits and pieces, with some initial confusion about who was actually there.
- By the Friday after Thanksgiving, Trump World was confirming that the dinner as reported did in fact happen.
- The attendees: Trump, Ye, Fuentes, and Karen Giorno, a political operative who worked on Trump 2016 campaign in Florida. Who is Nick Fuentes?
The flawed conceit of the coverage is that the dinner reveals something about Trump we didn’t already know.
Trump Is Who He Is
The premise to the coverage: What does dining with Ye and Fuentes say about Trump?
Really? That’s an open question?
I almost headlined today’s Morning Memo: “Ye and Fuentes Tainted By Dinner With Trump.”
Trump is the unabashed leader of the far right in America and has been since 2016. While in office, he unleashed a far-right coup attempt from the White House. Before, during and since being president, Trump has fomented racism, anti-Semitism, white supremacy, political violence, extremist groups, and Christian nationalism.
Everything that right-wing extremists have represented in the collective mind for the last 40 years, Trump has personally embodied. The notion that Kanye and Fuentes might somehow rub off on Trump and soil him in the process is to mistake the leader for the followers.
Some of the language and journalistic constructs still in use were outdated five years ago. They’re the equivalent of mass shooting’s “thoughts and prayers.” In this slow-to-get-it way of looking at things, Trump is “embracing” extremists, he’s under- or poorly staffed, he’s the victim of lamentable vetting at Mar-a-Lago. You can spot it easily because it’s the coverage that still openly ponders if this is what Trump truly believes. Please.
Trump’s GOP Rivals Mostly Mum
Beyond the initial fact of the dinner happening, the coverage quickly devolved into the condemnation game: Would GOPers condemn it? Would they not?
Few GOP contenders for 2024 weighed in on the fiasco, but it should be noted that few Republican officials defended him either.
- Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a condemnation of anti-Semitism out of the blue without naming Trump or offering any context.
- RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel condemned “white supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry” but did not name Trump.
- The Republican Jewish Coalition condemned West and Fuentes but did not name Trump either.
Among the few GOP elected officials to criticize Trump directly: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) and Rep. James Comer (R-KY).
Condemnation, or lack thereof, from GOPers who have been party to this nightmare has a certain hollowness to it that weighs down the coverage, unless you focus on the comedy. It is comedic to watch Republicans do this dance every time. Even their failure to defend him much this time around is fundamentally amusing.
Jan. 6 Committee Winding Down
With the Jan. 6 committee set to expire with the end of this Congress, it’s focused on issuing its final report in the coming days.
As we headed into the Thanksgiving holiday, there was backbiting and recriminations among committee staff over the scope of the final report and what would be left on the cutting room floor.
~ Arizona counties face deadline to certify the results of the 2022 election, and some GOP-controlled counties are dragging their feet.
~ A federal jury in Washington, D.C., resumes deliberations in the seditious conspiracy trial of the Oath Keepers.
Wednesday: House Democrats hold leadership elections (the top four leadership slots will be agreed to by unanimous consent, multiple Democrats told Punchbowl).
Thursday: The special master in the Mar-a-Lago documents case hears arguments over disputed privilege issues (unless the 11th Circuit rules first and grants the Justice Department’s appeal to halt the special master review).
Mauna Loa Erupts For First Time Since 1984
Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on earth, began erupting overnight on the island of Hawaii. Heightened unrest began at Mauna Loa in mid-September, but an eruption had not been considered imminent. Mauna Loa “eruptions tend to produce voluminous, fast-moving lava flows that can impact communities on the east and west sides of the Island,” according to the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory.
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