Over the last couple days I’ve read a dozen or more articles and newsletter briefs which describe the purported political disaster that is the Biden classified documents issue, then explain how it bears no comparison to the ongoing Mar-a-Lago scandal and then note that the difference and lack of comparison actually don’t matter because that’s how it is. Punchbowl runs through a list of Democratic lawmakers who are barely willing to make the distinction in public, let alone defend the President from the adverse comparisons. The headline of this Dan Balz column perhaps sums it up most nicely: Biden, Trump cases aren’t alike. The political system doesn’t care.
Most recently, Republicans are expressing outrage that there are no visitor logs for President Biden’s private home. Do presidents ever keep visitor logs for their private homes? Did Trump keep visitor logs at Mar-a-Lago while he was president? Did anyone ever ask for those logs, even now? And didn’t Trump try to shield his White House visitor logs so that the J6 committee and anyone else could not see them? My goodness, yes he did! Josh Marshall continues,
The deputy editor of the Post opinion section goes so far as to say that the Biden documents “should spell the end of any realistic prospect of criminal charges against former President Donald Trump” and lauds this as a wonderful thing since such charges would have been terrible for the country. Arrrghghghghg.
Indeed. That deputy editor is David Von Drehle, whom I met years ago and who seemed a good person, but this is stupid. This is what Von Drehle wrote:
Politically, Trump is a dead man walking. He has lost the ability to drive the news cycle. His outlandish social media posts fall as silently as unheard forest trees. His declaration of his next campaign produced a yawn worthy of another run by Ralph Nader. As drum major of a wackadoodle parade, he marched through the Republican primaries last year, delivering candidates who bombed in the general election. Now no one marches to his tune. When he tried to influence the election of a House speaker, even the surviving zealots ignored his instructions. …
… To be indicted and hauled into court for history’s most heavily publicized trial would invigorate Trump, and the spectacle would galvanize his dwindling base of support. He’d go from grumbling irrelevance in the gilded prison of his Mar-a-Lago mausoleum to ring master of a circus trial that would dominate every news outlet.
One, although Trump is politically diminished, he’s far from dead. But that shouldn’t matter in a courtroom. Two, if he isn’t destroyed, what’s to keep some future despot from taking the same liberties? This stops now.
The real issue here is not about which incident of document mishandling is worse. We know that already. The real issue, as Josh Marshall says at the end of his post, is that the news media and political establishment have decided that the American people are too stupid or too dishonest to understand the difference between Biden’s documents and Trump’s documents. No, most of them aren’t that stupid, but they need the difference explained to them. And it needs to be explained every time the issue comes up, because not everyone tunes in to multiple news sources every day. I’ve seen a lot of television news stories about this that doesn’t point out the difference at all.
Jake Tapper has pissed me off many times in the past, but here in this podcast at least he’s giving it his best shot in exposing GOP Rep. James Comer as a partisan hypocrite for investigating Biden’s documents issue after saying that Trump’s documents issue wasn’t a priority.
Another thing that the Powers That Be have decided the people are too stupid to understand are debt ceilings. House Republicans plan to hold the debt ceiling hostage to force spending cuts, while pretending they are just trying to get spending under control. And, of course, defaulting on loans you’ve already taken out is not usually considered a legitimate spending cut strategy. John Light writes at TPM,
Republicans have periodically taken the debt ceiling hostage as a bargaining chip, threatening the full faith and credit of the U.S. and raising the possibility that a government on which the world’s economy relies might default on its debt. To justify such a maneuver, Republicans habitually conflate the budgeting process — in which Congress decides what it will spend money on — with the debt ceiling, which allows the administration to borrow money to cover expenses largely made up of funds Congress has already appropriated.
Bacon, a McCarthy ally in his recent speakership fight, leaned into that conflation, telling ABC that “the mission we’ve given is to control reckless spending, which has been not the only contributor but one of the main contributors to inflation.”
The hope, for Republicans, is that Americans will share their party’s seeming confusion about just what is going on here. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) went there too, claiming in a separate interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday that “Republicans were elected with a mandate from the American people in the midterm elections. We campaigned on the fact that we were going to be serious about spending cuts. So, the Senate is going to have to recognize the fact that we’re not going to budge until we see meaningful reform with respect to spending.”
But the Biden Administration has said, in effect, it’s not going to negotiate with hostage takers. This makes the hostage takers sad.
“When President Biden says he’s just going to refuse to negotiate with Republicans on any concessions, I don’t think that’s right either,” said Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) in an interview with ABC This Week on Sunday.
“I want our side to negotiate with the Democrats in good faith,” he said later in the interview. “But President Biden has to also negotiate. He can’t say he refuses to negotiate.”
No, he doesn’t. Republicans have tried this trick too many times. Democrats seem to be united on this. No negotiation, no conditions. Steve Bennen writes,
Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz recently articulated the party’s position using even more direct language.
“In exchange for not crashing the United States economy, you get nothing,” Schatz said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “You don’t get a cookie. … You’re just a person doing the bare minimum of not intentionally screwing over your constituents for insane reasons.”
So we’ll see who blinks.