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"what's going on"
I’ve written repeatedly over recent months about the politics of opacity in the Biden era. The debates that are in public are largely performative. The consequential conversations are among Senate Democrats and between Senate Democrats and the Biden White House. They are necessarily confidential and private. People who follow politics closely and feel deeply invested in the outcomes find themselves asked to take things on faith. Why didn’t they get to Wednesday’s milestone in April rather than the middle of summer? Why are Democrats still trying to find bipartisan ‘deals’ Republicans will always renege on.
I wanted to have a conversation with someone up there who can walk us through, at least in general terms, just how all this stuff is working and why it works that way. So yesterday we hosted an Inside Briefing with Sen. Brian Schatz (D) of Hawaii. We talked about all these questions and it provided a lot of helpful context to understand why these work as they do even if you don’t think it’s a good way for them to work. I learned a lot from it and I think you will too.
If you’re a member, you can watch our discussion after the jump.
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This morning I want to kick off by sharing the Inside Briefing we held yesterday with Adam Jentleson. Adam’s a former Harry Reid staffer and relevant to this present discussion perhaps the most important filibuster reform activist. He’s got a book on it called Kill Switch you can find here. As is usually the case with these Briefings, in addition to wanting to make it informative for readers, I was mainly interested to answer two questions for myself. First, where are we on reforming or ditching the filibuster? and Second, what on earth is happening up on Capitol Hill about passing a big infrastructure bill which is supposed to be the centerpiece of the President’s agenda?
If you’re a member the video of our discussion is after the jump.
Over the last 48 hours I’ve had a number of people ask me, ‘What’s going on here? Is this a fundraising stunt? A coup? A protracted effort to protect Trump’s feelings? Just an effort to delegitimize Biden’s presidency?’ I think it mistakes Trump to think that he’s even decided or ever will, that it’s one and not another as opposed to all of the above. Donald Trump doesn’t do strategy. He does impulse. The most defining pattern of his life is to respond to reverses by seeking to throw his adversaries off balance with an audaciously aggressive play and then work it for all its worth.
This has just bubbled up in the last day. But this news about Mike Flynn and top House Trumper Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is something to watch closely. The gist is that twice after he became a cooperator with the Mueller probe, Flynn direct messaged Gaetz on Twitter, basically giving him a big thumbs up for his attacks on the Mueller probe. So he’s cooperating with the probe and also furtively encouraging public attacks on the probe. In April of 2018, for instance, just after Gaetz appeared on Lou Dobbs’ show with a standard anti-Mueller rant, Flynn DM’d him: “You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on.”