Can Democrats Find Their Fear and Rage?
Plus, What the ‘National Conservatives’ Get Wrong About Liberalism.
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A.B. Stoddard: Can Democrats Find Their Fear and Rage?.
A raped and pregnant 10-year-old crossing state lines for an abortion. A coup against our government led by a president eager to send a mob he knew was armed to threaten the vice president and members of Congress. A Supreme Court that rules against the majority of the country on guns, abortion, and climate change and may side with Republicans next year who want partisans to decide our elections. The attorney general of Texas admitting he would welcome the return of anti-sodomy laws.
After years of tumultuous change and accelerating division, these past days and weeks have made perfectly clear—even to those who had tried tuning it all out when Donald Trump lost the 2020 election—just what Republicans do with power.
In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and explosive testimony in several hearings on January 6th, polls show enthusiasm about voting rising, and the generic ballot tightening or even leaning toward Democrats. Yet reportedly the party’s base is unmoved. Some Democrats are telling us that it’s just too much to expect their voters to turn out in November because, to them, Biden’s first half of his term has been a failure. Their perception seems to be that current events are terribly disappointing, but not dire.
When it comes to coups, guns, and abortion, Republicans have shown us just what they do when they have power. Now, Democrats have to get out and vote — and stop cannibalizing each other. A.B. Stoddard joins Charlie Sykes on today’s podcast.
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“As far as my personal opinion is concerned, to care only for well-being seems to me positively ill-bred. Whether it’s good or bad, it is sometimes very pleasant, too, to smash things.” So said that incorrigible critic of reason, Dostoevsky’s Underground Man. Disillusioned as he was by the direction of the modern world, he might have found a few kindred spirits today among the public intellectuals associated with “national conservatism.”
They would reject the comparison, of course. National conservatives claim the mantle of Edmund Burke and have even issued a statement of principles recommending the “tradition” of nationalism as “the only genuine alternative to universalist ideologies now seeking to impose a homogenizing, locality-destroying imperium over the entire globe.” Yet their criticisms of so-called liberal imperialism are careless and sweeping. As Burke himself pointed out in Reflections on the Revolution in France, “The errors and defects of old establishments are visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out.”
Indeed, listening to national conservatives brings to mind G.K. Chesterton’s story about an overzealous reformer who, looking at a fence, announced, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” Chesterton continued, “The more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”
SHAY KHATIRI: Iran Might Already Have a Nuke.
Last week, after the latest nuclear talks between the United States and Iran collapsed, a senior American diplomat commented that “the prospects for a deal . . . are worse than they were before [the negotiations in] Doha and they will be getting worse by the day.” As with the previous rounds of talks in 2021, American and Iranian negotiators aren’t actually addressing each other in the same room. Instead, European diplomats have been shuttling back and forth between the two sides in a scene more fit for the schoolyard than arms control diplomacy. Meanwhile, Iran is moving ever closer to joining the nuclear club—if it hasn’t already—as the U.S. envoy, Robert Malley, acknowledged in an interview that aired on NPR yesterday. As the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism sprints toward the nuclear threshold, the Biden administration apparently considers further negotiations useless but refuses to say so because then people will begin asking what the backup plan to stop Iran from going nuclear if the talks fail—and there is no backup plan.
The futility of the talks was obvious to anybody who understands both American and Iranian politics. It was the Europeans, not the Iranians or the Americans, who announced the latest round with a nod from Tehran, which indicates who really wanted the talks to resume. The Europeans stand to benefit handsomely from the lifting of sanctions on Iran, at least in the short term; the United States stands to benefit relatively less, and the regime in Iran is happy to do whatever kills time, as Malley suggested. From the beginning, the negotiations were handicapped by Malley’s poor leadership. Two senior members of the U.S. negotiating team quit, apparently in part because they distrusted Malley’s skills. Congress shared this lack of faith in the American envoy, which contributed to lawmakers’ suspicions of the new Iran talks—and as President Obama learned with the first Iran Deal, bipartisan congressional buy-in is vital to making a deal stick. President Biden, for his part, pledged not to lift any sanctions before an agreement, but then lifted some sanctions anyway as a gesture of goodwill. Other sanctions on the books are going unenforced.
Death threats. Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s staff posted a compilation of them. This is not normal.
Missouri’s gonna Missouri… How the recent gun bill will/won’t help the Show Me State. (Spoiler alert: They’re being stupid.)
While we’re on Missouri… Eric Greitens is being irresponsible. A friend is calling him on it.
Best wishes to Baker Mayfield. He adopted Cleveland, and Jimmy Haslam treated him like trash. This, the guy, who was all in on Johnny Manziel. (Admitting my bias, I went to high school with Brian Hoyer.) I’ll root for Baker in NC. I will not root for the Browns until Deshaun Watson is gone.
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