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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I mentioned this yesterday on the Chris Hayes show. We can see how President Trump has united the GOP behind his openly and aggressively racist attacks on four freshman congresswomen of color. Yesterday all but four Republican members of the House voted against a formal criticism of the President’s attacks. Two of those are retiring. So they barely even count. What jumps out to me though is this. I suspect if any Republican member of Congress said exactly the same things he or she wouldn’t have survived the controversy. At a minimum they would have been roundly denounced and forced to apologize.

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We’ve been debating back and forth over recent weeks, impeachment vs aggressive oversight and then further debating: can this really be as fast and as hard as we can go at this? As we discussed yesterday with TPM Reader MA, the cold reality is that Democrats just don’t have much power, not enough to meet the big expectations of their supporters and those terrorized or angered by all of Trump’s transgressions and criminality. In an unprecedented fashion, the White House has adopted a policy of massive resistance to ALL oversight. That’s forced the House to rely on the Courts to enforce even the most basic compliance. But can they really not up the pace?

We held a briefing yesterday on this question. We had on a former longtime General Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee. I think it really captured for me that yes, they really are hanging back. The additional things they could be doing might not work. They could also fall prey to administration slow-walking and delays. But there are things they could be doing and which they are not doing.

If this is a question that interests you and you missed the briefing, you can watch a taped version here. It’s available to all Prime members. Just make sure you’re logged in. Here’s the link.

I really, really agree with this note from TPM Reader MA. There are lots of asides and elaborations along the way I’d quibble with, some disagreements about the structure and habits of the Democratic party and more. But we agree on this key point: top elected Democrats – and here I’m largely talking about Nancy Pelosi – are simply too dismissive of this hunger and this anger for oversight, for accountability and … yes, for confrontation. As MA himself notes, you’ve got a basic dynamic in which Democrats, even with the House, simply don’t have much power, not enough to meet the expectations and sense of urgency of many of their supporters.

She has tried to keep these expectations in check largely by being dismissive of them. (I’m talking here largely about impeachment; the dynamic with “the squad” is a bit different, though related). None of us should underestimate the magnitude of the challenge of keeping those expectations in check, keeping her caucus united when she has at least a couple dozen vulnerable freshman to protect in 2020. But dismissiveness is backfiring. It’s not modulating expectations or channeling them in productive directions. It’s giving a substantial percentage of Democrats the impression that she doesn’t see the problem, that she doesn’t know why people have such a sense of urgency.

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Democrats are being squeezed in a vise of expectations about how to confront, mitigate or if at all possible end the reign (I use the word intentionally) of Donald Trump. I’ve noticed a pattern accelerating in recent days by which the latest outrage from the President – whether it’s a new bad act, suspicious DOJ decision, rape accusation or racist outburst – leads Democrats not to vituperation against the President but a new round of increasingly febrile agitation and attacks against the congressional leaders of their own party.

We’ve all been over the arguments about impeachment versus on-going investigations. We’ve been through the minutiae of on-going subpoena litigation. Is it going fast enough? Is this just the inevitable slowness of the courts? Should Democratic leaders be more outspoken and direct?

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We’ve got a few more seats open for our Briefing and Q&A on the upcoming Mueller testimony this afternoon at 2:30 PM Eastern. I’ll be joined by TPM’s Tierney Sneed and Ted Kalo, former longtime General Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee. This is a good opportunity to get our questions answered about why the pace of investigations up on the Hill seems to be going so slowly. If you’re a Prime member and you’d like to join us, join me after the jump.

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From TPM Reader JB

The media and democrats really have to up their game in response to Trump’s calling out of some insensitive/obnoxious tweet to move the conversation on from the issue that makes him look bad. He yells squirrel and everyone looks to the side.

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If you’re a Prime member I’d like to invite you to join Tierney Sneed and me tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 PM eastern for a video conference briefing and Q&A on Robert Mueller’s upcoming testimony: what to expect from the committees, from Mueller and what questions remain to seek clarity on from the report itself. If you’d like to join us, join me after the jump for how to sign up.

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If you missed it over the weekend, take a look at this. The chain of events preceding what appears to be the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan dropping the Trump Organization investigation with no charges really requires some scrutiny. Dropped requests for executive interviews, Deputy US Attorney departing, Barr getting sworn in – all come together in a disquietingly close timeframe.

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