26 Comments

HAHAHAHHA!

Dag-gum!

+

Speaking of herself in the 3rd person!

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA.

Expand full comment
founding

Charlie, over the last few days I’ve heard/read you ask the question about why it doesn’t seem that Democrats are taking GQP voter suppression efforts as seriously as the Never Trumpers are taking it. Let me give you one Democrat’s take on why that might be the case.

GQP voter suppression efforts are nothing new. They’ve been trying it for decades and Democrats, especially Progressives, have been quite vocal about it over those years. In some ways this is just “same shit different day” stuff to us. We are used to having to deal with Republican cheating and this is just one more instance of it. That might make it seem to the Never Trumpers, to whom this is all new, that the Democrats aren’t taking it seriously when it’s more of us looking at you guys like the James Franco with a noose around his neck meme and saying, “First time?”

But in the era of TFG everything is ratcheted up to 11. The Democrats have tried multiple bills to protect federal elections and they’ve all died in the Senate either because of a GQP filibuster or because Joe Manchin says he didn’t like something in the bill. And as Shawn posted in another comment today it’s because President Biden and Chuck Schumer gave Manchin time to come up with a bill he could vote for and that would overcome a Republican filibuster. That happened only a couple of weeks ago and predictably it failed to attract a single Republican Senator.

I get the Manchin love at the Bulwark. He is probably the closest thing to the Republican party a lot of you still yearn for. But he’s THE issue as to why Democrats haven’t been able to pass election reform this term. He refuses to vote on a bill that at least 10 Republicans will vote for, and he refuses to even consider exempting election reform from the filibuster rules.

Progressive Democrats have been raising the alarm of GQP voter suppression efforts for decades and have been ignored or written off as being too alarmist (you can relate, right?). And now when we’re in striking distance of being able to address some of these voting issues the people we never thought would be our allies in this cause, the Never Trumpers, are instead blaming Progressives and lauding Manchin for being the adult in the room.

But then again, I could be full of crap. 😉

Expand full comment
Nov 2, 2021Liked by Charlie Sykes

Will Saletan's response to Cori Bush calling Joe Manchin "anti-woman" for opposing the social spending bill: "You're not helping anybody when you abuse these words. You're just killing the power of the words." is crystalized several paragraphs down by Laurie Snell's testimony: "The estranged wife of Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell testified under oath Monday that he choked her until she bit him to escape, that he hit their young children, and that he lashed out at her with obscenities and insults." Sean Parnell is currently the front runner for the GOP senate seat in PA. Anti-woman used to describe both Manchin and Parnell proves the word has lost meaning and gravity in the public sphere. And once the words are meaningless, the actions become excusable (see also: Parnell is currently the front runner)

Expand full comment

Many people don't really understand language--about the value of using words in particular ways to mean particular things--and using words sparingly to preserve their power.

When used too much or incorrectly (meaning to represent something they do not represent) words lose their power. Profanity is an excellent example of this--the more you use it and encounter it, the less power it has... until it simply becomes a noise.

Expand full comment

One thing that helped fuel the Big Lie that culminated in the 1/6 insurrection was the lengthy delay between the close of the polls and the completion of the counting of the ballots. So many media types and others were saying that Trump will be ahead on Election Night and then when the states count their absentee/mail-in ballots, Biden will surge ahead. While I knew they were correct, I didn't agree it wasn't a big deal. It would be a HUGE deal if we didn't know who won on Election Night. I knew Trump would use the delay to declare victory and suggest that the late counted ballots were fraudulent. That's in fact exactly what he did. What I didn't realize was the extent that the GOP faithful would go along with this nonsense. I thought maybe 25%. More like 75%.

If Florida had just gone the other way, we would have went to bed on November 3rd knowing Biden was the winner. Unfortunately, we had to wait several days for the vote counting to be completed in swing states.

There is no reason for this. States can count absentee/mail-in ballots before polls close. States can require that absentee/mail-in ballots arrive before Election Day to count. Unfortunately, Democrats were filing pre-election lawsuits, some of which were successful, to allow late-arriving ballots to be counted. The Dems are still pushing for "reforms" that would have the effect of delaying the counting of ballots and the identification of the winner of the election.

As we discuss election reforms, one point of emphasis needs to be on making sure we know the result of most elections on Election night. That will cut off or dampen some of these voter fraud claims.

Expand full comment

The job of the President is NOT to legislate. That is the job of Congress (hence, that is why they are called the legislature and the President is called the executive.

The President can use rhetoric to build support for legislation (bully pulpit). He can act and speak so as to create a mandate where none exists or to (OMG) LEAD the people. He can, in the background, act to facilitate legislation by acting as a "neutral party" in the internal party debates about legislation.

Biden seems to be a decent legislatural mechanic (all his time in the Senate, one would hope so). He doesn't seem to be an effective leader or speaker.

One of our recurrent problems seems to be that we either elect people who know the nuts and bolts or we elect people who are simply "faces." It seems to be rare that we elect actual LEADERS. I think this is largely due to the fact that most people do not have a clue about what leadership is... and aren't really looking for leadership or change. People prefer a bad (but bearable) status quo to change, because they are afraid of change.

We seem to be accelerating towards electing more and more faces and fewer competent people... because US politics is now largely performance art rather than governing. This is particularly true of the GoP

The only people looking for change are those who are extremely dissatisfied--and they represent a very small minority... and usually a denigrated minority.

Too many people have unrealistic expectations, given our misunderstanding of how the system works, given how the roles of the various branches have escaped their bounds, given the rhetoric involved. Those unrealistic expectations drive a constant churn between the two parties--despite the fact that said churn doesn't provide any solution.

It is a mess. It is why our system is going to ultimately fail and some authoritarian system will take its place (even if we dress it up to not look authoritarian).

Expand full comment

I agree with Sarah Longwell’s thoughtful assessment of Biden, but I have two critiques. 1) I think Biden’s mandate was focusing on ending Covid and dealing with a once-in-a-generation pandemic, which he showed with quick actions during his early days. GOP decided to kill their own constituents rather than support a vaccine TFG spearheaded. Inflation was bound to go up after prices dropped during the pandemic. Supply chains were also disrupted during the Pandemic, also does anyone remember Trump’s trade wars with China? I mean, I can see this with my eyeballs which is why Biden still has an 80% plus approval rating with Dems. Biden has been doing great at ending this shit show, and he deserves praise for quickly getting the vaccine. Actually, the only time he goofed up is when he went out and talked about it. It was too early and that was a mistake.

I know our anti-Trump Republican friends want us to focus on elections so you all can stop being Democrats and elect normal Republicans, but I think Biden is being smart. The progressive wing is happy or at least is going out there and saying on TV they support this plan. If you all don’t want Bernie Sanders as a Presidential challenger, Biden needs to do this dance. And we need to watch and support him like Baby’s family in the final scene of Dirty Dancing. Let’s not put Biden in a corner with our narrative.

Biden isn’t pissing off the base who will turn out and knock on doors. He needs that enthusiasm. Reasonable people need to remember this is year one after the biggest mess in our living History. I am patient, I wish other independents out there would be too.

Point 2) He’s really old and isn’t about to give GOP more Ad fodder.

Expand full comment

Also we are so focused on Virginia. We should be focused on Texas. https://news.yahoo.com/greg-abbott-beto-orourke-virtually-112001981.html

Expand full comment

Way too many gun-rights paranoiacs in Texas for Beto to win statewide.

Expand full comment

Whatever happened to committee meetings where bills went through a mark-up process. These may or may not have been made and agreed to before-hand, but the process was pretty open and, at least, committee members were seen making decisions, and got a chance to recommend the contents to the caucuses before they were forced to take a vote. I sort of doubt it, but this could be what Senator Manchin is asking for?

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Sad, isn't it? I knew all that when I wrote it. Nevertheless, I'd like to hear members of Congress calling for mark-ups and more adherence to some traditional ways of making law. It's the difference between a parliamentary and a constitutional government.

Expand full comment

The devil incarnate, rebranded a MAGA warrior, could win a Republican Senate primary. Does enough of the country care to stop this madness?

Expand full comment

Apparently not.

Expand full comment

I just want to say that one of the things I like about living on the west coast is that I get your newsletter around 6:30 am and can read it with my morning coffee before I start the work day. I can't imagine having to wait until 8:30 or god forbid 9:30! Thanks so much for all you do.

Expand full comment

Last school year, I had my first two hours of the day as my plan-periods, which let me read Charlie's newsletter fairly early on in the day, but now it's like 10:30 at the absolute earliest before this happens, LOL. Still during the "morning," I guess, and I've gotten used to it.

Expand full comment

My morning meditation is to respond to this blog lol. Which is why my responses have so many typos. I should also have coffee first!

Expand full comment
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Life needs an edit function 😂

Expand full comment
founding

Just hit the like on this. Consider it hit quite a few more times...

Expand full comment

Sarah & Ben are absolutely right. Joe Biden's presidency will fail the only role he plays is "competent administrator" (how well did that work out for Barack Obama?). He needs to state clearly what he expects from Congress - and that should include a demand that legislation be understandable, easily executable, and targeted at widely-held concerns of the PUBLIC, not all the various parochial interest groups. It's the pandering to the latter, to the point of dysfunction (see ACA), that drives public dissatisfaction with Congress, attraction to authoritarianism, and the victories of nihilism. Public frustration with the stranglehold that DC lobbyists and fringe political activists hold on Congress is reaching the point where our form of government is endangered. The sooner that Uncle Joe understands that, and makes his objectives clear up front and repeatedly, the better. He can lead or lose - the latter would not be good.

Expand full comment

And just what is "the public"? And just how is the ACA "dysfunctional"? And just what "special interests" are you kvetching about? I hear code words here. What's driving public dissatisfaction is economic dislocation, the stubborn refusal of Covid to go away, and the equally stubborn refusal of a rabid minority to do anything to counter it--issues that long preceded Biden, and neither of which can be resolved in *nine months*.

Expand full comment

'She also testified that after a Thanksgiving trip in 2008, he (PA GOP Senate candidate Sean Parnell) briefly forced her out of their vehicle alongside a highway after raging at her, telling her to “go get an abortion.”'

One would think for such principled, pro-life voters, this would be a deal-breaker, no?

Expand full comment

That’s just locker room talk. You’re thinking of a different GOP.

Expand full comment

There is a tiresome quality to this. Yes, we know that Dems may blow up the whole thing. But is there even a model for pleasing Democratic electorate who want different things. So how does Biden keep African Americans on board when Dems can't pass a voter rights bill, and how to keep environmentalists, or workers who would love subsidized day care. And what about moderates? If anyone on the Bulwark staff has real experience re this - please share it.

But it is all just empty words, most crafted by folks who heretofore shilled for a party that wanted maybe one thing, lower taxes.

Expand full comment

There's a real problem with this Biden misreading his mandate talk: it's actively playing into the very problems that led to Trump and our current congressional dysfunction in the first place. It is not the President's job to 'spend time' on bills. His job is to sign or veto them. It is the job of congress to pass legislation. It is the job of congress to decide what legislation gets passed. The president is not the leader of congress. And spending all this time going 'Look at all this stuff Biden is doing wrong' and then talking about congressional dysfunction plays into the notion that the president is a King overseeing a parliament.

The thing is, under Trump the problem was that the president began to do things that were meant to be done by Congress. The bigger problem is that we discovered that not only did wide swaths of the American public not care, the same people also thought that the President could do such things in the first place. That the people who comment on things now go 'why isn't Biden doing all these things' is yet another sign of rot.

Biden does not set the agenda. Congress does. But I don't hear a lot of talk about Schumer or Pelosi, do you?

The bigger issue is this: we have two senators who have decided to waste lots of time. Those two would be Manchin and Sinema. Sinema is a contrarian who has zero interest in actually passing anything. Or at least, she acts that way. Ms. Jean Jacket is pretty openly disdainful towards literally everyone.

Manchin meanwhile, is a fool. You ask why Biden spent months not passing voting rights? Because Manchin said 'I need time to make my own bill that will get bipartisan support.' So Biden gave him that time, Manchin made his bill, and surprise! No GOP members signed on. Not Romney. Not Collins. No one. You want to know why Biden is wasting time? Because people like Manchin do not understand the world they live in.

For all the talk of progressives being the problem, they're the ones who have signaled, over and over, their willingness to pass whatever legislation comes their way. They voted for Manchin's bill. they voted for the other bills that have come forward. And yet, over and over, the people who are being the problem are people like Manchin. He is the new freedom caucus, along with Sinema, who exist to cause trouble than little else.

Perhaps, if you wish to save democracy, you should be targeting the people who are stopping it from happening. More than any 'progressive' issues, it's the moderates who won't play ball on their own issues.

Expand full comment

"For all the talk of progressives being the problem, they're the ones who have signaled, over and over, their willingness to pass whatever legislation comes their way."

I'm not saying there aren't reasonable arguments in favor of the progressives, but this one is hardly fair. Did I miss a bill passed by the Senate that somehow contradicted progressive policy goals and forced the Progressive caucus to bite their tongue and compromise? You're going to give progressives credit for their willingness to pass a different bill authorizing infrastructure spending? Or a voting rights bill which got the OK from Stacey Abrams?

I agree that it's disheartening that no Republicans signed on to the voting rights bill, but at this point it's probably too late to do anything about Republican gerrymandering, so it's not clear that torpedoing the filibuster is worth it anymore. If anything, Congress should have saved this infrastructure fight for next year and focused on voting rights from the beginning. But they didn't, and the Progressives are as much to blame for that as anyone. This was bad prioritization all around.

Expand full comment

Manchin understands the world he lives in quite well. He understands that he and his friends and donors have particular interests and he seeks to serve those interests. He understands that he is in the catbird seat and is able to dictate the terms. He understands that he isn't really interested in changing the system or in voter rights, because those things will only peripherally effect him, if at all. Manchin understands that change is bad for him and bad for his friends and donors. He understands that all the people complaining about him don't live in his constituency (or not enough of them to make a difference).

To understand Manchin, look at the career of his daughter. Look at what HIS financial interests are.

Expand full comment