I disagree that the Democrats have that much of a messaging problem. What they have are two media eco-systems working against them.

The first is Fox News and the rest of Conservatism Inc. going all anti-Biden/Democrats all the time.

The second is the MSM that treats the republicans way easier than they do democrats. They act like the GOP is a normally functioning political party that isn't currently an actual, real-life threat to our way of governing. They ignore good news for the democrats and instead focus on their daily "dems in disarray" story lines.

Beto O'Rourke announces his run for TX governor the same day Christie starts his rehabilitation tour and Christie gets all the press and airtime.

The BLS recently adjusted August's new job numbers up by more than 600,000. I don't hear anything about it in the MSM.

The economy is growing at over 5% this year and is expected to maintain growth of over 4% next year. MSM? Nothing.

Unemployment is expected to hit a 50-year low in the next couple of months. MSM? People aren't working!!

BIF bill passes and is signed into law. MSM? BBB is super expensive and stuff!

IMO gas prices are the biggest culprit for Biden's falling numbers. If he releases oil from the strategic reserves and gets OPEC to open the pumps and gas goes back under $3/gallon his numbers should start picking up fast.

And as far as being "woke" hurting the Democratic party? I don't buy it. Over 60% of parents and voters agree that real american history should be taught in school, even the ugly stuff. The Moms for Liberty idiots are the minority. But they are a minority that, again, the MSM focuses on instead of parents like the ones that pushed back MAGA recall effort on their school board members.

Expand full comment

Charlie, I hate to say it but you're doing it again. 'Democrats are in their own echo chamber.' Question. Is the GOP not also in an echo chamber? You quite literally go from 'Cheney is no longer a republican, the architect of the CRT panic wants to abolish public schools, and Paul Gosar is a member in good standing, while GOP elites are backing the president and the pillow salesman' to 'Those democrats are just so out of touch!'

Let's be quite clear. The issue is not that Democrats are in an echo chamber, because if anything, they at least feel a need to look outside of it. The right wing media bubble is larger, and more potent, than any democratic echo chamber. The issue is that the right, by virtue of being a monolith and having spent decades creating this bubble, can now live entirely inside of it.

Which is why millions of voters look at someone like Gosar and go 'yeah that's my guy' and look at Cheney and go 'Rino.' Because their bubble is bigger, and stronger.

If anything, the problem is not that Democrats live in a bubble. It's that they've failed to make their bubble larger and more durable, and thus shape the conversations in society the way the GOP have. If the Democrats have a vacation house in their bubble, the GOP has one they live in year round.

The other problem is that we're dealing with an asymmetrical playing field. I posit that it doesn't really matter what the democrats do or don't do at this point; the issue is that half the country doesn't particularly care about elections or voting or democracy. Saying 'democracy is at stake' to most people is just code for 'the people you don't like are going to win.' This isn't a good arguement if most people can't tell the difference between the GOP and Democrats. We're about a hundred years into the idea that government has always been broken and what we need are more outsiders, that political parties don't matter and whoever is in charge things will stay the same. Which means that trying to talk about democracy to a population that shrugs and figures there's not much difference between right and left isn't a good idea.

On the left, this mentality has traditionally taken the form of the 'politics is a scam' 'the military industrial complex' ect. On the right, it's now become a matter of a deep state and new world order ideas. But in general, both sides have a problem where the voters don't particularly see any difference between America and say, Russia. Do elections matter? Do people care? That's a bigger issue than bubbles, because it's undoubtedly true that the right has primed their people to think that it really doesn't matter, and that force is justified in order to 'save' the republic.

In other words, the right doesn't want a Caesar. It wants an Octavian. And much like Caesar and Octavian, they were beloved by 'the people' who didn't care about democracy.

You can't sustain a democracy when the people don't care about it. And when you talk about 'elites' you miss that the elites are simply trying to maintain their own power over things, because they know that if they all turned against Trump and the tide of nationalism, they'd simply be replaced or killed by the people who no longer have a need for them. It's a choice between a slow decent and a french revolution scenerio, but in the end, the problem is not 'the elites' but the people beneath them who no longer see any benefit in democracy or any value in things like republician ideals.

The democrats aren't the problem. The problem is that our people don't care about who's in charge.

Expand full comment

"You can't sustain a democracy when the people don't care about it."

You can't care about a democracy when things like Vietnam, 50 years of Reaganomics, Vietnam 2.0 (Iraq), and the 2008 crash happen. Except that's an oligarchy, not a democracy.

Get back to me when guys like Bill Kristol start supporting unions and living wages, and stop treating healthcare and housing as investment vehicles. Everything has been commodified, at the expense of human dignity, in the service of an insanely radical economic ideology, and you wonder why people have checked out?!?

If you want to save democracy, you have to stop supporting ALL the corruption and greed that got us here, and stop sabotaging the incorruptible candidates, even if you disagree with their philosophies.

Expand full comment

Hmm, I read it as Dems are NOW in their echo chamber, as the GOP has been since the founding of Fox News. For a reader like me, that's a given.

And the echo chamber they're in isn't MSNBC. It's their party leadership. They've failed to make their bubble larger and more durable because they're so tied to the identity politics of the base.

Tell me how the Dems, in their electoral strategies, have looked outside of that bubble.

Expand full comment

In response to Josh Kraushaar - the strategy he decries is one that worked literally six weeks ago for Gavin Newsome. Now it doesn't work any more. They will adjust and I hope do better next time. But let me ask this: are the Republicans adjusting from their strategy of uniting behind a guy who has never won the popular vote and who lost the Senate and House during his one term?

Expand full comment

I need to agree with DJ here. Having people turn out right after a presidential election is rough. The point that people will tell 20 friends about a bad experience but only 1 friend about a good experience is what I believe happened. That being said, GET ON MESSAGE DEMS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Can I get a story about a black honor roll student who aced every test in a virtual public school system (despite the CRT noise)? Can I get a story about an out-of-work white Steam Fitter who will spend the next decade turning his local bridge into a marvelous piece of work? Can I get a story about a rural town that was rebuilt and is now thriving by Mexican immigrants? Your plan is to talk about a bill you signed and tie the world to Trump? Aint nobody tryna hear that @#$%!. Is the Bulwark microphone on?!

Expand full comment

The huge challenge for Dems is they don't have an entire media apparatus that will report only what they want reported. Fox News spent all of 15 seconds -- literally! -- on Steve Bannon but did multiple spots *per hour* about CRT.

Fox News is not all of right wing media, but they are part of the Brietbart/Daily Wire/Daily Caller axis that dominates Facebook, and they all take cues from each other as to what to talk about and, more importantly, what NOT to talk about.

CNN and the NY Times may be left leaning, but they report bad news all the time. Worse, grifters like Tucker Carlson cite NYT reporting regularly. They do very little real reporting of their own.

Expand full comment

smh, at first I thought....what is JFK doing in the photo. But then I remembered Dallas is supposed to be hosting his return from the dead for the cult of Qanon. Does nobody see the Nazis in this war propaganda? Maybe if nobody stormed the capital this would be playful. The worst propaganda Wokesim did is create his/him tagline on an email signature. Which I think is silly but not entirely unhelpful. You should see my lawyer friend fuming about it. For her, the world has ended and she refuses to put her/hers in her signature because....Freedom right?

Expand full comment

The ACLU took Trump's 2016 campaign promises seriously because they were so extremely unconstitutional. They wrote to Trump to alert him they were monitoring and would challenge him if he attempted to implement them. The ACLU had never previously set out to prepare to do battle even prior to the candidate's election. From book Democracy If We Can Keep It (2020). That's a page turner book. really good.

Expand full comment

That Liz Cheney is now persona non grata in the Republican Party, and Paul Gosar and his childish, obscenely violent tweet are the apotheosis of it says all you need to know about today’s GOP. Lincoln and Reagan would be mortified by that.

Expand full comment

Reagan would have LOVED Gosar in private.

Expand full comment

I was born in 1948, three years after World War II ended. My father fought in that war. He was friends with a former French resistance fighter who emigrated to the US. I remember their shared stories of the war. As a child I met a German woman whose wrist was broken by the Nazis because she did not say Heil Hitler quickly enough when they came to her school. Recently my husband and I watched a three part series "Rise of the Nazis". At one point we looked at each other because there were too many similarities between Hitler and Trump to ignore. We are seeing the rise of a new authoritarian party using the same tactics - lies, menace and the threat of violence. January 6th was only the first round. The cancer has spread to red states and radicalized at least one third of this country. This is not politics as usual. This is an assault on our constitution and democracy. We ignore it at our own peril.

Expand full comment

"Rise of the Nazis" is excellent! It's available on Amazon Prime and PBS (https://www.pbs.org/show/rise-nazis/).

Expand full comment

Orwell was right!

Expand full comment

Trump was probably wearing a tux either 1) he wanted to look good for his imminent re-instatement to the Presidency; or 2) He had a gig later as the crooner at the Feldman Bar Mitzvah.

Expand full comment

😂 😂 😂. Both completely reasonable!

Expand full comment

Even with all the BS peddling and fake outrage: Woke > Authoritarian.

Expand full comment

For election purposes, not so much.

Expand full comment

Well, in '24 it is gonna be one or the other based on how all this is playing out. Pick your lane or don't and vote Reagan or Michelle Obama or whatever nonsense makes you fell better.

Expand full comment

I wasn't talking about my one vote. I was talking about what I believe to be true, that the branding on the Democratic Party as the Woke Party is dooming the Party's electoral prospects.

Expand full comment

Every single president would take their weapons and turn it on that whiny little b* in the middle who is trying to destroy, with the help of the party, the America they love. WTF is going on with Republicans. I'm beginning to think that Putin, Trump, et al must have some really, really bad dirt on them!

Expand full comment

Never attribute to complex conspiracy and machination things that are easily explained by basic human cupidity, ego, and self-interest--and the short-sightedness that attends those things.

The GoP is pretty sure that it has found a winning combination of things. At this point I am not sure they are wrong. They have (re)discovered that it is more profitable and motivating to pander to base human instincts than the positive human instincts.

This is particularly true in a system like ours where, if you are one of the two parties in a two party system, you have a guaranteed lock on a certain portion of the population that is geographically placed to give you an electoral advantage--and a legislative system that allows you power out of proportion to the population you represent.

I will once more invoke the banality of evil. People usually are not consciously evil, they simply serve their self-interest in a narrow-sighted fashion, with what they think are (if not good) at least reasonable motivations--and then one morning the alarm goes off and you get up and go to your job as a concentration camp guard. Ooops.

Expand full comment

I would agree in the past, and that "banality of evil" I think would extend to a good many of Trump supporters. The problem now is the sheer number of people who until Trump may have held opinions I didn't agree with, such as Liz Cheney, John McCain, Mitt Romney, etc., but who had integrity and knew Trump for the liar and grifter he is, could be reasoned, knew that compromise is what makes a country run and integrity. Jan 6 scared them at the time. But now, those people seem to be few and far between and many (most) have caved in to Trump, a man they would have spit on in the past. That's not banality any more. Now, it's "lets see how far we can go before they stop us".

Expand full comment

I happen to have been a graduate student at Dartmouth when some conservative undergraduates founded the Dartmouth Review. (This is the student paper that launched the careers of Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D'Souza among others.) The paper was controversial from the start and eventually the controversy gave rise to a formal debate on the proposition that the paper was having a "deleterious effect" on the Dartmouth community. Arguing the pro-Review case was Professor Jeffrey Hart who published regularly in the National Review and whose son was one of the founders of the Review. I don't recall the name of the Professor who argued the anti-Review side. But what stuck with me is that both debaters spoke in favor of a kind of elitism - the idea that there is such a thing as a degree of authority that society would do well to heed.

Fast forward to today and we find the bizarre situation that the concept of authority has evaporated in the "conservative" party. Medical authorities are demonized. Science holds no dominion. The craziest conspiracy theories carry the day. The right cannot recognize that the most insane characters are exactly that - insane.

What happened? Why do the signals from the "top" about what is true now fail to make it to the "bottom?" I think part of the problem is that certain philosophical schools on both the left and the right have for centuries now attacked the very idea of authority. Instead of framing debate in terms of whether something is true or not, the new schools speculate endlessly on the motivations of the debaters.

There seems to be a great desire now to rehabilitate the ideas of knowledge and authority, which are essentially the same thing. Witness the success of the Jonathon Rauch book. This is going to be an extremely difficult project.

Expand full comment

"certain philosophical schools on both the left and the right have for centuries now attacked the very idea of authority." I understand this to mean the Protestant Reformation challenged the authority of the Catholic Church in the 17th century and then the Enlightenment challenged the authority of religion in the 18th. Which is left and which is right? Those terms had no currency until the French Revolution at the end of the 18th.

Expand full comment

Keep in mind that Dartmouth is Laura Ingraham’s alma mater.

Expand full comment

Adam Schiff is my hero, and not just because he's Vegan. If you have any doubts about the Russiagate narrative, and think collusion was some sort of bogeyman confected by the media to nail Trump, I refer you to Schiff's completely extemporaneous speech before HPSCI in response to calls from the GOP members that he resign his chairmanship of the committee. Delivered March 28, 2019, it is a detailed catalog of what the Trump campaign was doing, and everything in the speech is substantiated and documented if you try to track it down. Schiff quotes the whole thing in his new book. It's worth quoting:

I'm going to turn to our witnesses, who are the subject of the hearing today, but before I do, and as it -- as you have chosen -- instead of addressing the hearing -- to simply attack me, consistent with the President’s attacks, I do want to respond in this way.

My colleagues may think it’s okay that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for President as part of what was described as the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that’s okay.

My colleagues might think it’s okay that when that was offered to the son of the President, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the President’s son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help. No, instead that son said that he would "love" the help of the Russians. You might think it’s okay that he took that meeting.

You might think it’s okay that Paul Manafort, the campaign chair, someone with great experience in running campaigns, also took that meeting.

You might think it’s okay that the President’s son-in-law also took that meeting.

You might think it’s okay that they concealed it from the public.

You might think it’s okay that their only disappointment after that meeting that the dirt they received on Hillary Clinton wasn't better. You might think that's okay.

You might think it's okay that when it was discovered a year later that they'd lied about that meeting and said it was about adoptions -- you might think it's okay that the President is reported to have helped dictate that lie. You might think that's okay -- I don't.

You might think it's okay that the campaign chairman of a presidential campaign would offer information about that campaign to a Russian oligarch in exchange for money or debt of forgiveness. You might think that's okay -- I don't.

You might think it's okay that that campaign chairman offered polling data, campaign polling data, to someone linked to Russian Intelligence -- I don't think that's okay.

You might think it's okay that the President himself called on Russia to hack his opponents' emails if they were "listening."

You might think it's okay that later that day, in fact, the Russian's attempted to hack a server affiliated with that campaign -- I don't think that's okay.

You might think that it's okay that the President’s son-in-law sought to establish a secret back channel of communications with the Russians through a Russian diplomatic facility -- I don’t think that’s okay.

You might think it’s okay that an associate of the President made direct contact with the GRU through Guccifer 2[.0] and WikiLeaks and considered -- that is considered a hostile intelligence agency.

You might think that it’s okay a senior campaign official was instructed to reach that associate and find out what that hostile intelligence agency had to say in terms of dirt on his opponent.

You might think it’s okay that the national security adviser-designate secretly conferred with a Russian ambassador about undermining U.S. sanctions, and you might think it’s okay he lied about it to the FBI.

You might say that’s all okay. You might say that’s just what you need to do to win.

But I don’t think it’s okay: I think it’s immoral. I think it’s unethical. I think it’s unpatriotic. And, yes, I think it’s corrupt, and evidence of collusion.

Now, I have always said that the question of whether this amounts to proof of conspiracy was another matter. Whether the special counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the proof of that crime would be up to the special counsel, and I would accept his decision, and I do. He's a good and honorable man, and he is a good prosecutor. But I do not think that conduct, criminal or not, is okay. And the day we do think that's okay is the day we will look back and say that is the day America lost its way.

And I will tell you one more thing that is apropos of the hearing today. I don't think it's okay that during a presidential campaign, Mr. Trump sought the Kremlin's help to consummate a real estate deal in Moscow that would make him a fortune -- according to the special counsel hundreds of millions of dollars.

I don't think it's okay that he concealed it from the public.

I don't think it's okay that he advocated a new and favorable policy towards the Russians even as he was seeking the Russians' help -- the Kremlin's help -- to make money.

I don't think it's okay that his attorney lied to our committee. There's a different word for that than collusion -- and it's called "compromise." And that is the subject of our hearing today.

Expand full comment

His closing speech in the first impeachment was great too.

"We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What's right matters even less, and decency matters not at all."

Expand full comment

Thanks for adding this to the discussion.

Expand full comment

Thank you, thank you for sharing the whole thing. I still remember and value Schiff's handling of the first impeachment.

Expand full comment

Yes, thank you. I copied and pasted and sent it to my conservative friend who believes, to this day, "collusion was some sort of bogeyman confected by the media to nail Trump."

Expand full comment

Perfect! Whenever anyone I'm around begins sifting their false beliefs into the conversation, I listen carefully and decide whether or not to confront them. We have to be bold but not too bold. :)

Expand full comment

Charlie, Trump is an icon created by the powerful GOP at their last nominating convention. He gains power by attracting attention to Mr. Trump the Icon. He was and is an iconic actor. It doesn't matter that he looks insane because his role is successfully maintained by the GOP congressmen (95% F's on their scorecards). Q, Big Bird, and Trump the Icon are roles; they are not real. Congressional votes ARE real.

Expand full comment