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Show Them What They’ve Won!

July 24, 2019
Show Them What They’ve Won!
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sometimes I like to catalogue what it is Republicans have gotten from the Trump administration. There’s a short list of accomplishments:

  • Mitt Romney’s corporate tax cut
  • Marco Rubio’s judicial nominees
  • Rand Paul’s foreign policy
  • Bill Clinton’s personal ethics
  • And George Wallace’s sense of decency and decorum.

You laugh, but I’m pretty sure that it’s that final item that’s actually the big payoff for Trump’s base. They don’t put up with “Send Her Back” so that they can get the other stuff. They put up with the other stuff so that they can get to shout “Send Her Back.”

The last two weeks have been instructive on this point.

Here’s Jonathan Martin detailing how Trump’s racist attack on the progressive clique wound up hurting him with 2020-related electioneering:

  • “Had a labor source tell me at end of last week that, after Trump’s race-baiting, there was no way even the most GOP-friendly building trades unions could back him. Just too toxic.”
  • “But what makes that choice even easier is Trump makes little effort for labor: NLRB appointments, Scalia to Labor, biz-friendly rule-making, zero pol capital spent on infrastructure. No different than any conventional GOP president.”

And then there was the budget deal he just struck with Nancy Pelosi. Here’s Phil Klein:

There are many ways in which the Trump presidency has been disruptive to the status quo. But when it comes to spending and deficits, he has restored Washington to a much more conventional place in which both parties agree to ignore warnings of fiscal disaster, and resolve their differences by simply agreeing to spend more money.The Tea Party was many things to many people, but one way in which it briefly changed politics is that for a period of time, Republican lawmakers were more worried about the consequences of rubber stamping budget deals than they were about being attacked for spending cuts. Though the movement never consolidated control of the government before its influence declined, it had one lasting victory in the form of the 2011 budget agreement to resolve the debt ceiling standoff that modestly restrained spending.

Yet as time went on and Trump was elected president, Republicans decided to stop pretending to care about the debt. They voted several times to blow past spending limits, and now have done so to the tune of another $340 billion. As Manhattan Institute’s Brian Riedl notes, the latest deal “would essentially repeal the final two years of the 2011 Budget Control Act and raise the baseline for future discretionary spending by nearly $2 trillion over the decade.”

The waving away of previous spending restraint, it should be noted, has not come because deficits have receded. In fact, just last week, the White House projected that deficits would once again breach $1 trillion in 2019, for the first time since Obama’s first term. What’s remarkable is that this is happening during a strong economy and with interest rates still at historically high levels. . . .

Instead, they have given up all pretense. The Freedom Caucus, founded to supposedly represent the Tea Party values of limited government in Congress, has devolved into a PR shop for Trump. Mick Mulvaney, one of the founders of the group, has discounted the importance of deficits as the president’s budget man and chief of staff. And even Rush Limbaugh recently declared that, “Nobody is a fiscal conservative anymore. All this talk about concern for the deficit and the budget has been bogus for as long as it’s been around.”

Got that? Rush Limbaugh now tells conservatives and Republicans that all that “concern for the deficit and the budget” was “bogus for as long as it’s been around.”

I wonder how many of those Tea Party type Republicans realized that.

Funnily enough, I suspect that the answer could well be “All of them.”

Because this may be one occasion where Rush is telling the God’s honest truth.

Keep that in mind the next time conservatives tell you that you have to vote for Trump because it’s a binary choice and if the Dem wins then it’ll be human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria.

And ask yourself: Do these people really care about this stuff? Or is this like the “deficit and budget” malarky they spent two generations crying about?

2. Who Shot Big Papi?

This SI longread is just too good:

In the barrio there are mixed opinions on what has become the government’s official story. A day earlier, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez had declared in a press conference that the shooter’s true target was not Ortiz, but his friend David Sixto Fernandez, who happened to be with the slugger that night. The attorney general said that a drug trafficker named Victor Hugo Gomez Vasquez believed that, eight years ago, his cousin Sixto provided information to narcotics investigators about him. That caused Gomez, who maintains his innocence, to assemble a hit team—a ragtag crew of men with nicknames like The Bone, The Surgeon and Carlos Nike. Initially prosecutors said the job cost a mere $7,800, though the number would balloon to $30,000 within a week.The cause of the mistaken identity, authorities said, was a grainy photo snapped on the night of the shooting by one of the men surveilling Sixto, which made it appear as though Ortiz’s much smaller friend was wearing white pants. When the gunman arrived at the club, he saw Ortiz—dressed in white pants—sitting at a table with Sixto, the reggaeton artist Secreto and Jhoel Lopez, a television host, who hours before the shooting posted a photo with Ortiz captioned, “You know we are from the street.”

As widely shared security footage shows, the shooter, allegedly confused, approached the table and shot the most recognizable man in the Dominican Republic in the back at point-blank range before fleeing. Police say the team that attacked Ortiz included two getaway cars and a motorcycle (an enraged crowd caught the motorcyclist and, in a widely seen video, beat him to a pulp).

Read the whole thing.

3. The Death of Mic

I don’t take much joy in the shuttering of a publication, but this HuffPo piece about the fall of Mic kind of rubs me the wrong way because it wants to pretend that the recently departed Mic was something other than a clickfarm.

Backed by millions of dollars in venture capital, Mic developed into one of the more diverse newsrooms in media, shed light on important stories and served as a launching pad for several now-thriving journalists. The Observer, Forbes and Business Insider published glowing profiles of the new company and its leaders.

“When it was good, it felt, like, too good to be true,” said one former employee. “We all felt like we were making a difference. We were all having so much fun. Everybody was so young. We were all laughing. People would stay late just to hang out.” . . .

Like HuffPost and BuzzFeed before it, Mic’s earliest incarnation relied on unpaid “contributing bloggers” for much of its content. But the founders soon proved to have a knack for finding and empowering talented journalists who instinctively understood not only the issues young people cared about but also how to present those issues in easily digestible formats.

“In a way, it was an incubator for young talent,” said Elizabeth Plank, an early employee at the site who rose from intern to senior correspondent and had a video series called “Flip The Script.” “They took in a lot of people like me who probably A, would have never been hired in media, or B, would have been interns somewhere and gotten some old white guy coffee.”

That right there is just about the most damning thing you can hear from a writer. Because do you know how young writers learn their craft? By sitting at the feet of very good writers and learning from them.

Anyone can lost money in digital publishing. That’s easy. What’s hard is turning out a product that actually adds value while losing money. Buzzfeed does that. Vice, to a somewhat lesser extent, does that. Mic did not. It was a disposable content generator that was more of an attempt to cash in on an (illusory) market opportunity in tech. It was not a place for either serious journalism or writing.

And there’s no reason to pretend otherwise.

Jonathan V. Last

Jonathan V. Last is editor of The Bulwark.