Excuse me while I free associate for a while.
Today I ran into a post by Ed Morrisey at Hot Air providing testimony that the November election results matched the Trump campaign’s internal polling on the eve of the election, with the exception of Georgia, which internal polls showed Trump winning. They all knew good and well that Trump was losing and no fraud was going on. This is not a surprise to me, but it’s a surprise to see it reported on Hot Air.
Back in the heyday of political blogs, Morrisey was Captain Ed, a reliably hard-Right voice in support of George W. Bush and against liberalism. He was in lock step with the likes of Power Line and Instapundit, if you recall those blogs. Hot Air is a website founded by Michelle Malkin. So it’s a bit disorienting to find Morrisey being honest about bad actors on the Right. I haven’t been following Morrisey, however, and I don’t know if he was a Trump supporter until recently.
This testimony about internal polling is significant because it is more evidence — like we needed more evidence –that Trump planned to steal the election by declaring himself the winner based on an election night lead and then using courts to stop the counting of mail-in votes. That plot was foiled when Fox News called Arizona for Biden on election night. Trump’s very narrow path to victory required Arizona and Pennsylvania, it says here. Note that Arizona and Pennsylvania were the hills Cruz, Hawley, et al. were still trying to take at the end.
According to a YouGov poll out today, 45 percent of Republican voters approve of the riot in the Capitol building. The same poll showed 68 percent of Republican voters do not consider the assault on the Capitol to have been a threat to democracy. This puts Republicans way out of step with Democratic and Independent voters. But it also tells us that 55 percent of Republican voters don’t approve of the attempted insurrection, and at least some of that 55 percent do think it was a threat to democracy. We can hope some scales fell from at least some eyes.
James Ford, a Zen teacher and Unitarian Universalist minister, cited the YouGov poll on Facebook and quoted Hannah Arendt: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” James continues,
What was believed as true has been revealed to be a lie. Here as the prince of the lies has been revealed for what he is.
Those 55 percent are at that place. That hard place.
They are being invited to see something about themselves. Personally, I am completely sympthetic. It is something we humans find terribly seductive. I’ve swallowed more than one lie in my life. …
…A painful thing. I know. I know. And. Most almost certainly will not succeed. It is too hard a thing.
But a door has opened.
That’s about how I felt when I saw Ed Morrisey’s post. Look at you, being all factual. What happened? I don’t expect Morrisey to stop being a lot more conservative than I am. But “conservative” doesn’t worry me. Reasonable people can reach different conclusions when they apply different values and philosophies to the same facts. In that case at least everyone is mostly dealing with facts, which hasn’t been the case for the U.S. political Right for some time. There’s a big difference between opposing views on tax policy and not living in the same time-space continuum.
Which brings me to former Missouri senator John Danforth. Danforth may be one of the last living old-school Republicans. Danforth was first elected to the Senate in 1976, a time when the GOP was splitting between the more ideological Goldwater-Reagan wing and the old eastern establishment, sometimes derided as the “Rockefeller Republicans.” As a Senator, Danforth was conservative, and I disagreed with a lot of his votes, but he was more pragmatic than ideological. He didn’t think in talking points. He was respected by reasonable people of both parties. He lived in the standard time-space continuum. And it’s significant that Danforth says today that campaigning for Josh Hawley to take his old seat was “the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”
I think Hawley has done irreparable damage to his political career. I could be wrong about that. Certainly, if you look at Missouri right now you might assume there is no limit to how far Right you can go and still win elections. My sense of things, though, is that the riot in the Capitol could end up being “movement conservatism’s” last hurrah. The pendulum that kept moving further and further Right, from Reagan to Gingrich et al. to Bush-Cheney-Karl Rove to the ascendance of Trump and the MAGA cult may be about to swing the other way. The powers that be on the Right are arrogant and greedy but not stupid; they must see they are on an unsustainable course, politically. The more grounded and traditionally conservative sensibilities of the old Republican establishment may come back into vogue and squeeze out the nutzoids. That would be a good thing.
And if that’s so, Josh Hawley just bet the mortgage money on the wrong horse.
A sign of the times: The Wall Street Journal is calling on Trump to resign. I agree with WSJ that the events of this week have probably finished Trump as a serious political figure. Yes, he still has a devoted following, but Trump probably never realized how much of his power derived from the consent of the Republican establishment and Murdoch media, not to mention the complicity of mainstream media to “normallize” him. If he loses most of that, and I believe he has, there’s no way he wins another presidential nomination. His influence within the Republican party could fade quickly.
And, frankly, this crew is not exactly a solid power base.
Let’s talk about the insurrectionists. They were dangerous, no question. There is evidence some of them were hoping to take hostages. Some of them might have hoped to seize and destroy the ballots. Somebody planted explosives. One security officer was killed by rioters who, as I understand it, smashed in his head with a fire extinguisher. There was vandalism. Offices were looted. Poop was smeared in hallways.
But most of them, once inside, seemed to be a loose ends. Why were they there? What did they expect? They issued no demands and made no statements other than to wave flags — American flags, Trump flags, Confederate flags. Some of them seemed to think this was a big lark, like the time they left a rubber snake in the teacher’s desk back in 6th grade. Like this guy:
Behold 36-year-old Adam Johnson, a father of five from Parrish, Florida. And yes, this is what White privilege looks like. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that he’s commiting a crime. Felony? What felony?
At least the fellow who put his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested. That’s a start. He is Richard Barnett, 60, from Gravette, Arkansas, and when he left the building he bragged about looting Nancy Pelosi’s office to the New York Times.
See When the Mob Reached the Chamber by Megan Garber at The Atlantic.
The glibness was its own display of dominance. Apathy can be its own kind of weapon. The images of the rioters that came from the Capitol yesterday conveyed glee and anger and many things in between; what they convey very little of, however, is fear. The insurrectionists grinned at the cameras. They waved, merrily. They shuffled through Statuary Hall as the frozen faces of America’s past looked on. They overran the place. And then they were escorted out, calmly—politely—by Capitol Police. They were fueled by lies and fantasies; one thing they got right, though, was that their attack on the government—an attack motivated by their desire to overturn a free and fair election—would incur very few consequences. By the evening, as newspapers ran all-caps headlines about the trauma the Capitol had just endured at the hands of militant invaders, law enforcement had reportedly arrested some 50 people. News networks that had spent years stoking violent delusions scrambled to announce their shock that the delusions had turned violent. Politicians who had demonized peaceful racial-justice protesters this summer found acrobatic new ways to define “law and order.”
Those rioters who returned home and expected a virtual hero’s welcome on social media found something else instead — claims that the riots were the work of antifa! See MAGA World Is Splintering by Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Atlantic.Tiffany spoke withTrump fan Bryson Gray, who had attended the insurrection but claims to have remained outside the Capitol Building.
“When I left the Capitol, I actually thought I was going to get on Twitter and see a bunch of support, because it was actually a very beautiful thing,” Gray said. Instead, he was met with a strange message spreading across the site: Trump fans weren’t behind the riots. Instead, it was antifa, the decentralized left-wing group that has become a bogeyman for Republican commentators and politicians, and for President Trump in particular. Many of Gray’s former #StopTheSteal allies had disavowed the insurrection, and a good number of them were using leftist antagonists as their scapegoat. “The first tweet I saw was somebody saying ‘Patriots don’t storm buildings; there were no patriots in the Capitol,’” Gray told me. “I’m like, Uh, that literally makes no sense; what are you talking about?”
I don’t disagree with Greg Sargent often, but today he writes that the insurgency scored a propaganda coup.
“Make no mistake: Wednesday was a watershed moment for the far-right extremist movement in this country,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.
“By all measurable effects, this was for far-right extremists one of the most successful attacks that they’ve ever launched,” Jared Holt, who tracks far-right groups for the Atlantic Council, added. “This will be lionized and propagandized on likely for the next decade.”
I don’t think so, although it depends on whether the rioters are allowed to get away, unpunished. These people violated the Bigger Asshole rule, big time, which is why so many righties were so quick to blame antifa. And as their behavior in the Capitol Building revealed, they don’t actually have a cause. They have no coherent governing ideology or purpose other than Trump. They have resentments. They see themselves as victims. That’s it. In far Right circles Wednesday’s events may become legend, but I don’t see a sustained movement.
I am hopeful that most of the rioters who broke into the Capitol building will be identified, arrested, and convicted of something. And I am hopeful that they receive enough punishments to change their attitudes. Some of them have already lost their jobs. I am also hopeful that any government or security official who in any way colluded to make the insurrection happen will do penitentiary time. We’ll see.
See also David Graham, The Atlantic, The Insurrectionists Would Like You to Know That They’re the Real Victims.
As for Trump, I do hope the House impeaches him. Right now, it appears this will happen.