Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

Menendez is Defiant. It Probably Won’t Matter
UNITED STATES - APRIL 21: Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., talks with reporters before the senate policy luncheons on the Capitol, April 21, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If you watch politics long enough you realize that the secret to not being forced to resign is simple: just don’t resign. Obvious? Sure, in a way. But for countless politicians it remains oddly elusive. It’s a sort of Zen Koan of political scandals only revealed in its fullness to those who have spent years, decades meditating on the carnival of political scandals.

I often regret when good politicians fail to grasp this. We now see a bad one – Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey – trying to make a go of it. As our proverb makes clear, if Menendez absolutely refuses to resign there’s literally no way to force him. But that may not be as big a deal as it seems. Forcing him to resign may not be necessary.

The simplest alternative is for another candidate to defeat him in a primary. It may not be as hard as it sounds.

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TPM Reader RS chimes in on the senior Senator from New Jersey …

In watching the different reactions of NJ politicians and Senate Democrats to Sen. Mendendez’s indictment, I’m struck by another juxtaposition: the different responses of Senate Democrats to Sen. Menendez and former Sen. Franken.

I have never been particularly concerned with the pressure that was placed on Sen. Franken to resign (and think that Sen. Gillibrand has gotten a bit of a bum rap for her role in the process that probably affected her Presidential campaign in 2020, unlikely as it was to succeed in the first place).  But I can’t help but wonder if the Democrats haven’t created a situation where getting indicted is what helps a Senator keep his or her seat at least in the short-term — because colleagues will point to due process, the presumption of innocence, etc. — whereas non-criminal allegations of impropriety are in a way more serious because they “have to” be dealt with by the Senate.

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Back to One of My Hobbyhorses

While English-language AI is gobbling up much of the online English language almost always without permission, there’s a problem for Danish AI, reports Bloomberg. Apparently, most of the Danish web is under pretty stringent copyright protections. And Danish law makes the kind of recourse-less stealing that Silicon Valley AI companies are getting away with way too hard. Government records and legislation are in the public domain. But that formal Danish is too distant from how people really speak and write to serve the purpose. The solution turns out to be horses.

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Israel-Saudi Peace Deal: What The F… Is in It for the US?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, essentially frozen out by President Biden, is back in laudatory mode. In a long withheld sit-down with the President yesterday Netanyahu told Biden, “Under your leadership, Mr. President, we can forge a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia.” Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s longtime chief agit-prop guy and hype man, says it could be a “reverse 9/11” for the U.S. That sounds kind of weird frankly and not necessarily something you’d want, given that 9/11 and everything that happened after it kinda sucked. But what he means is that whereas 9/11 led to one disaster after another for the U.S. in the region, this Israel-Saudi peace deal would make everything in the region suddenly awesome for the U.S.

But who are we kidding here exactly?

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Cats Out of Bags

There was a revealing bit of news today on the Republican government shutdown front. Punchbowl reported that Republicans are debating whether “to move the CR debate away from spending levels and toward border security.” This sounds tactical and a bit in the weeds until you realize this means House Republicans are considering changing the reason for creating a government shut down crisis in the first place. The idea is supposed to be that the GOP right is so hardline on spending that they’re pushing to shut the government down unless they get even more spending cuts than they agreed to back in May. But now they’re saying, forget about the spending stuff we’ve decided to shut the government down over “border security” instead. Who knew the budget stuff was so easy to solve? It illustrates perfectly what most of us already know, which is that policy issues are just an excuse to shut the government down because it’s something Republicans like to do. Otherwise you can’t change your reason in the middle of the whole thing.

In Which Josh Returns to the Prez Ticket Switcheroo Grindstone

Don’t worry. I’ve made my points about Biden and Harris not getting dropped from the 2024 ticket. Here I just want to address a few responses from readers that I found notable. TPM Reader JA argues not so much that I’m wrong on the merits but that I’m suggesting that there are some kind of “forces” or laws that govern presidential tickets. On the contrary, each presidency is unique and needs to be taken on its own internal dynamics, says JA. JA doesn’t say this directly but one of the best rejoinders to any discussion like this is that we simply have too small a sample set, whenever we’re talking about presidential politics, to make categorical judgments or statements.

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One Additional Point on Trump and Abortion Politics

As noted below, there are clear, obvious and available ways to take Donald Trump apart on abortion rights. But one thing that completely won’t work is thinking he’s going to face some kind of pro-life rebellion in the Republican primary. That’s how Ron DeSantis apparently thinks this is going to work, attacking Trump for getting ready to sell out the pro-life base. But there’s no one to sell out. The pro-life movement – as opposed to the bans in various states – is in a state of irreversible collapse. Really everybody involved in GOP primary politics knows that. You know it’s over when Mike Pence says Republicans need to elect a bible-believing, evangelical purist and then declares his support for a national 15 week ban.

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Get It Together

I’m still seeing articles about how Dems or the White House are worried Trump is going to muddy the waters about abortion. Worry and reacting to Donald Trump is in fact not the only way to encounter life. Democrats should be happy to spend the next fourteen months debating with Donald Trump whether he wants a 6 week national ban or an 8 week ban. If he’s really forgotten that he’s the “most pro-life President ever” who single-handedly overturned Roe by appointing three diehard abortion opponents, then by all means get him to demand his obediant and gerrymandered state legislatures to ditch all the state bans altogether.

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Puck for the Win! (Yes, It Can Happen)

Over at the velvet rope publication Puck, Peter Hamby has a good post puncturing the inane chatter that Kamala Harris will be or should be replaced as Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate. This is a kind of sub-genre of “Biden stand down” discourse, a kind of thinking man’s artisanal small batch whiskey of definitely-not-going-to-happen ideas. Hamby actually finds that there is a political scientist, George Sirgiovanni, who has done a formal study of the history of Dump the Veep talk: the gist is that the chatter happens basically every time things look shaky for the incumbent and the Veep absolutely never gets dumped. Yes, it’s happened in the distant past. But not in the modern history of the presidency or vice presidency. It doesn’t happen. So stop trying to make fetch a thing.

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Old Man Trump Forgets His Position on Abortion?

Everyone is aflutter today over news that Donald Trump suddenly thinks Ron DeSantis’s six week abortion ban in Florida is “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.” Hapless reporters and commentators are running around asking whether Trump is now pro-choice, whether he’s going to steal Democrats’ big issue out from under them. At least some Democrats seem to be worried about this too.

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