A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.
The Dumb Season
When the national political conversation becomes so dumb that I want to remove myself from it, I try to remember that it will soon pass. The conversation might not get appreciably smarter, but it will change to something else. Just give it time.
So while we wait out the latest stupidstorm over the Hur report and President Biden’s age, take some solace that this is happening in February, instead of October, when the Clinton emails stupidstorm reached its peak.
The Stupid Coverage Tropes
Part of the reason that the political coverage can spawn so many stories about the same stupid thing in such short order is that there are so many ready-made templates for those stories that editors love and reporters are familiar with.
- You have the stories about Democrats worrying, casting blame, and rallying in response to the stupid.
- You have the poli-sci-fi stories about how Democrats can still nominate someone else for president to save themselves from the stupid.
- You have the “everyone gets to play political consultant for a day” stories about what the slumping candidate must do to save themselves from the stupid.
- You have the stories about polls that serve to justify the stupid.
- You have stories that argue “no, really, this isn’t stupid at all.”
- You have the stories that pretend to be self-aware of the stupid.
Notice that none of these criticisms are directed at stories about Biden’s bungled handling of the classified information, the larger problems with the classification system, the nuances of the decision not to prosecute, or the contrast between the Biden and Trump cases. Those stories, done in moderation, are legitimate stories that require independent news judgment and expertise. “Biden is old” requires neither.
Don’t Be Dumb, Too
Some recommended reading if you’re avoiding the “Biden is old” chorus:
- Andrew Weissmann and Ryan Goodman: The Real “Robert Hur Report” (Versus What You Read in the News)
- Lisa Needham: Why the Hur report triggers bad 2016 flashbacks
- Judd Legum: Media creates Biden “fitness” crisis
🚨 RED ALERT 🚨
Just another normal post-Super Bowl night in the Trump household …
Trump Ready To Abandon NATO To Russia
NATO allies scrambled to shore up the alliance and back Russia off after Trump all but gave up the farm over the weekend:
But sure, go ahead and write about how old Biden is.
Rule Or Ruin
Georgetown University historian Thomas Zimmer argues that the right wing keeps fantasizing about secession and civil war because it will not accept pluralism under any circumstances:
The American Right is fully devoted to a fundamentally anti-pluralistic political project. They steadfastly refuse to accept the complex, complicated process of balancing interests, of reconciling different ideas, values, and aspirations that a pluralistic society necessarily depends on. They believe they shouldn’t have to, because they regard it as their prerogative, as the sole proponents of “real” (read: white Christian patriarchal) America, to shape the nation in their image and to define the boundaries of what does and does not count as “American.” If they don’t get to dominate America, then America as they conceive it is no more; they will rule – or might as well ruin.
The Great Pluralist
Abraham Lincoln was born on this day 215 years ago.
The Week Ahead
- U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will hold closed-door hearings in the Mar-a-Lago case under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA). This is a normal procedural step in a CIPA case, but nothing is normal when Cannon is involved and the decisions she makes coming out of this round of hearings could prompt Special Counsel Jack Smith to make his first appeals in the criminal case. Donald Trump will reportedly attend in person today.
- Trump is expected to ask the Supreme Court to take up his claim of immunity from prosecution, which he lost last week at the DC Circuit.
- NY-03: The special election to the fill the seat vacated by Rep. George Santos (R-NY) is an important pickup opportunity for Democrats.
- A second impeachment vote against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected in the House. With Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) planning to return to DC after cancer treatments, House Republicans may have enough votes to pull it off after last week’s failed impeachment debacle.
- A final vote is tentatively expected on the $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan after 18 Republican senators broke ranks Saturday to support the advance of the bill despite border security measures no longer being a part of the package. Additional procedural obstacles could change the timeline for the final vote.
- A pre-trial hearing in the Stormy Daniels hush money case against Trump could firm up the trial date, tentatively set for March 25.
- In an evidentiary hearing in the Georgia RICO case, the trial judge will consider the dispute over Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis’ romantic relationship with one of her special prosecutors in the case.
- After a couple of weeks of delay, a decision is expected in the New York civil fraud trial against Trump and his biz empire that could include hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and a ban on Trump doing real estate business in the state.
Aileen Cannon Again!
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon pulled a bait and switch late last week. First, she allowed Special Counsel Jack Smith to file under seal and ex parte (meaning Trump couldn’t see it) information about an ongoing criminal investigation into social media threats against a possible witness in the case. Then, after she reviewed the information, she ordered Smith to provide it to Trump, which is not typically what a federal judge would do. It wasn’t clear if Smith would comply or appeal to block her order, but it was confirmed that he did comply and turn it over to Trump as ordered.
- MD-Sen: Former Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) is the immediate frontrunner for the GOP nomination to replace the outgoing Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) after he announced his candidacy Friday. Hogan’s entry expands the Senate map for Republicans, but Maryland remains deeply blue.
- WI-08: Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who bucked his party last week by becoming one of just three House Republicans to vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, will not run for re-election.
- RFK Jr.’s Super PAC recycled a JFK TV ad from 1960 and spent $7 million to run it during the Super Bowl.
Sorry, 49ers Fans
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