Readers Reply on Despair and Withdrawal, Part 2

From TPM Reader MC

I can believe that you’re describing a real phenomenon with your recent post. I feel it myself sometimes. My take is that it’s linked to the differential poll response we seem to have observed in the last week or two.

That said, it’s insanity-making, unwise, and unworthy of us.

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Readers Reply on Despair and Withdrawal

TPM Reader DM kind of took my breath away …

In contrast to the decision to withdraw from politics, my wife and I, both recently retired, launched ourselves, for the first time, into the fray. We attended the 2016 women’s march, then she ran for Alabama state house in 2018, knocking on 6000 doors in her attempt to oust an eighty-year-old white male incumbent When that failed, we sold our Alabama home, stored our belongings and moved on January 1 to Arizona for the 2020 election to help Arizona Democrats elect Mark Kelly to the Senate to put a check on this administration. This dark week just reinforces our decision to stand up against a President who is following every authoritarian’s playbook in methodical fashion.

Two TPM Reader Views on Bloomberg

First from TPM Reader EH

I will not vote for Michael Fucking Bloomberg. I’m no kind of “Bernie or Bust” zealot. The only candidate I’ve donated to in this cycle is Warren. I’ll be thrilled to support her or Bernie against Trump. I’ll be perfectly willing to pull the lever for Biden or Klobuchar. I’ll even hold my nose and try to keep my lunch down if I have to vote for Pete. Bloomberg? No fucking way.

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Despair and Withdrawal

I generally don’t like amplifying counsels of despair. As I’ve written previously, optimism is less prediction or analysis as a moral posture toward the world. But I also think it is important to understand what many Democrats, liberals, opponents of President Trump of less defined ideology are feeling. Yes, there’s plenty of anger. There’s plenty of fear. But what I have listened to and noted over his years in the White House are the voices of withdrawal. To be very specific, people who find the news so bad and toxic that they are trying to make a voluntary exit from the public sphere – withdraw into work, family, hobbies. Needless to say, many of us who live politics 24/7 could probably use a bit more focus on those. But what we’re seeing here is something different and more dangerous: the way quasi-authoritarian governments constrict the public sphere, pushing people into their private worlds and away from civic engagement.

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Settling All The (Trump) Family’s Business

We have a lot of different developments coming out of the Justice Department at once. Let’s try to put them in some ordered perspective. We have the brazen interference in the Stone trial which has already led to multiple resignations. We have the breaking news that Andrew McCabe has finally been told that he won’t face any criminal charges. And just now we have news that Bill Barr has assigned a group of outside prosecutors to “review” the prosecution and conviction of Mike Flynn.

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Where Things Stand: Trump Is Just Screaming The Quiet Part Now
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 10: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "Keep America Great" rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on February 10, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. New Hampshire will hold its first in the national primary on Tuesday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

None of us were operating under the illusion that President Trump would somehow stay quiet about the Ukraine scheme post acquittal or this latest effort to politically interfere in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

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A Reply on Barr

TPM Reader HR disagrees with TB. But I think TB is saying something similar. From HR

I disagree with your reader. I read Barr’s remarks as a signal to Trump that the tweets are getting in the way of Barr doing Trump’s bidding. Kind of like McConnell ignoring Trump’s maximalist tweets during the impeachment trial. Let me do my job and I’ll get you the result you want, trust me. It’s not defiance, it’s a plea to let Trump’s professional henchmen do their job. But it’s a bonus that it can be read wishfully as a plea for independence.

I think TB is saying just the same thing. Barr just wants Trump to allow him to do his dirty work efficiently and in the background. The tweets are making the corrupt enterprise harder to pull off. TB’s point, if I understand it, is that Trump is too dominance motivated to understand, too impulsive not to need to hit back.

Could Barr Have a Problem?

I’m pretty skeptical it will come to this. But I think TPM Reader TB makes a good point that is worth keeping an eye on.

I can’t avoid the conclusion that Barr will now inevitably be fired because (as you have pointed out) Trump sees everything through the lens of a domination ritual, and Barr attempted to be the dom on TV just now by saying it’s impossible for him to do his job with Trump’s constant tweeting. The commentary about how Barr just wants Trump to shut up so he can keep doing corrupt things for Trump with a veneer of legality or acceptability is irrelevant, is too complex a thought for Trump, and is not a game that Trump has the patience to play. Trump must win every domination ritual, and the only way to reestablish dominance in this situation is to fire Barr. My guess is it will happen after a period of weeks.

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From Facebook To CNN To Fever Swamps: How Bogus Stone Juror Story Emerged

How did we get to this point?

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Where Things Stand: Warnings From The Outside
This is your TPM mid-morning briefing.
on January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC.

In the past 24 hours, two ex officials — both ousted by the mercurial Trump — have spoken out against the administration for actions that prompted his impeachment– former White House chief of staff John Kelly and the ex-ambassador and impeachment witness Marie Yavonovitch.

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Where Things Stand: Echoes Of Obstruction
This is your TPM early afternoon briefing.

The debate over whether President Trump pressured the attorney general to shorten his former associate Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation or if the Justice Department acted on its own is missing the point. This is all bad.

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Stone Debacle Takes Fears About Trump Influencing Mueller Probe To Next Level

Remember the all-consuming panic that President Trump would exert political influence on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe?

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The Billionaire Question

From TPM Reader AL

I completely agree that Bloomberg’s ads are very persuasive. I also feel something is missing from the discussion on your blog. If we have a billionaire nominee because that person was the best individual in the primary, well so be it. I would prefer if the nominee was not a billionaire, but in that situation the best candidate won and I certainly don’t think billionaires should be barred from running.
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Readers Respond on the Rise of Bloomberg

TPM Reader BB on the rise of Bloomberg and the impatience to go after Trump …

Just wanted to respond to this, because it SO accurately describes my experience:

Quoting from this Editors’ Blog post: “Bloomberg’s ads ignore the entire primary process. They focus on Bloomberg himself and increasingly on bashing Donald Trump. I see them a lot on social media. They’re good. Even if you’re a Sanders supporter you’d think they’re good, even if you despise Bloomberg. For a lot of Democrats right now, watching the primaries unfold is highly dispiriting. Bloomberg is already running against Trump, running ads that land hard punches on Trump. If you’re a Democrat, the Democratic primary race is exhausting and demoralizing and the ads bashing Trump get you pumped – just because a lot of Democrats are so focused on driving Trump from office and want to get on to running against him.”

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Exhaustion and Impatience

Usually I publish single emails. But in this case I asked for a follow up with TPM Reader LS

Josh, your next-to-last paragraph REALLY speaks for me (except I’m not supporting Bloomberg, just FYI). I just DGAF, especially after the impeachment farce last week. All the debates and primaries seem like worthless folderol. For me, the primaries are over. I just want to get on with beating this cancer of a human being and ending his crime spree masquerading as an administration once and for all.

I replied …

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An Ex-Bernie Supporter’s Perspective

From TPM Reader EC

An ex Bernie supporters perspective.
A little background:

I lived in Vermont for over 25 years.
My wife is a Vermonter and my 2 kids where born there.
I love and miss Vermont (not the weather).

I would imagine I have voted for Bernie more than almost anyone not living in Vermont including for Mayor, 8 Congressional races and once for Senate.

I made calls, knocked on doors and catered fundraisers, most memorably an event at Ben Cohen’s house for Bernie & Max Cleland. I think during the 2002 cycle.

Win or lose I’m very concerned about Bernie.

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A Reply to EW …

From TPM Reader JB

With all due respect to Reader EW, all I can say is “Really?”

I don’t know what country he/she is in, but this well-described set of policy preferences put into perspective of other nations and their leaders is never going to come up in an American Presidential election. These kinds of conversations happen amongst those who are interested in politics, read a lot, and have enough gumption to go deep. That is not the American public.

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Unfair and Dead Wrong

Vermonter and TPM Reader EW begs to disagree

I think the coverage of Bernie is not just unfair, but dead wrong. I don’t just mean Bret Stephens who is lying when he compares Bernie’s socialism to the Soviet Union. The model has always been, for Bernie, the Nordics and next door neighbor Canada and others. His proposals actually put him to the right of government policies in those countries and others including New Zealand, the Netherlands and others. He is not more left wing than the leaders of most European Social Democratic parties. Even parties to the right of Social Democrats support universal health care systems state controlled or managed.

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Waiting for Blooms

TPM Reader EH is a long, long time reader and frequent emailer …

As a Warren supporter who has watched her make too many political mistakes, not turn into an effective Bernie blocker, and seen her organizational competence which should have been a key strength get trashed with the Nevada walkout I’m actively looking for the next thing.

Recognizing there’s no perfect candidate, everyone left in the primaries feels high risk but Bloomberg’s commercials are hitting some sweet notes. Is he the bigger, badder New Yorker we need? Policy history aside, if he and Trump are on a stage together who owns the room? Would it be the real business guy, the real rich guy?

Would love to hear some NY perspectives.

Fretting About Sanders

TPM Reader RS is an anti-Sanders voter …

Thanks as always for the series of reader reaction posts this evening – they, together with your “Is There a Path to Post-Primary Unity?” post from a few days ago have been helping me think through the situation.

To put my cards on the table, I’m definitely an anti-Sanders voter. I’ll absolutely vote for and support the Democratic nominee in the general, whoever that ends up being — although my vote is itself irrelevant here in NYC — but there’s almost no serious Democratic candidate this cycle who I’d less like to end up winning the nomination. (I’d rank Gabbard, Steyer, Yang, and Williamson below him, but I’m not sure any of those were actually “serious” even though they debate-qualified; I’m genuinely torn over Bloomberg for other reasons.)
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Responses to TPM Reader MRK, Part 2

TPM Reader RD responds to TPM Reader MRK

I just read “Thoughts Before Canvassing” from MRK, and thought I’d respond. I like Elizabeth Warren a lot. She’s my home state senator, and I’ve donated to both her senatorial campaign before I even lived in Mass, and to her 2020 presidential campaign. I think she’s the smartest person in the race, but I have concluded that she’s not best positions to succeed in the general. Here’s why:
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