Late Stage Trumpism

Bill Kristol, on why many are looking for the exits...

Leading The Bulwark…

Biden Must Stiff-Arm the Court-Packers

Richard North Patterson: It’s politically savvy—and smart on the substance of judicial reform—for Biden to delay giving a definitive answer.

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🎧 On the Pods…🎧

Bill Kristol on Late Stage Trumpism

On today's Bulwark Podcast, Bill Kristol joins Charlie Sykes to break down the dueling town halls, how some on the right are looking for the exits of Trumpism, and how actively suppressing the vote for the GOP is likely to backfire.

The Home Stretch

Matt Yglesias of Vox joins Mona Charen, Bill Galston, and Sarah Longwell to talk about whether the US should grow—a lot! The group also tackles the Hunter non-story and the why 2020 is not 2016.

🎧 For Bulwark+ Members🎧

From The Bulwark Aggregator…

In today’s Bulwark…

The Conservative Push for a Social Media “Fairness Doctrine” is Pure Fantasy

Christian Schneider: Federal regulators shouldn’t micromanage political speech.

Editor’s note: A year and half after I wrote this about Hawley, he’s still at it.

In a World Without Movie Theaters …

James Emanuel Shapiro: Those cheering the demise of theatrical should consider the consequences of a full move to streaming.

Kelly Loeffler: Lifestyles of the Rich and Classless

Amanda Carpenter: The trials and tribulations of a fake populist.


What a long strange trip it’s been… Many a meme was made (myself among the guilty) about the headline of Charles C.W. Cooke’s latest item in National Review.

As is usually true with memes, most people did not read his opinion piece. Not just because most people making memes rarely read the story, but it was behind NR’s paywall. It isn’t anymore. Read it and judge for yourself whether it was meme-worthy to run this headline on the eve of an election when one cycle ago the cover story was a symposium of conservatives from various walks of life who were opposed to Trump.

Suffice to say, very few of them are now. Among this in the symposium were our own Bill Kristol and Mona Charen, but most have gone into the folds of MAGAland.

I don’t find Cooke’s argument convincing, but then again, as Cooke writes, he could never vote for a pro-choice candidate… and that’s it. That’s the fork in the road for him. As a pro-life Catholic, I understand this. But I guess we Bulwark types took a different fork earlier, and that was whether we could continue to go down the road of Trumpism.

A few years into the Trump presidency, some of us decided that being Never Trump meant that the enablers are not able to be saved. That the party would not thrive in a post-Trump era if the people who were tight lipped about deficits, debt, senseless trade wars, character issues, entitlements, the list goes on… were to be rebuilding it. Who would believe or trust them?

Others on the right in the Never Trump, “Balls and Strikes” and Anti-anti-Trump crowd took a different path. “Yeah, most of the GOP is going crazy these days, but so-and-so is still good” only to be disappointed not soon thereafter.

As JVL coined:

I look around at the institutions I respected as an up and coming young conservative and I don’t recognize most of them anymore. Not everyone has taken the Never Trump route at every step of the way, and there are a lot of diverse opinions that aren’t squarely in the MAGA or Never Trump camp. And that’s OK. That’s a good thing.

A lot can change in four years. But make no mistake, we’re never going to a post-Trump world.

You might not see MAGA hats at CPAC in 2024, but the effect of Trump and Trumpism on the party will leave ripples that last for decades.

And writing in Rolling Stone… Our own Tim Miller makes the very same point, only a little more bluntly:

Here’s the even more foreboding reality: Trumpism is forever not just because of the president’s narcissistic pathologies, but also because it’s what Republican voters want.

In a related vein… Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast has an item up on Ben Sasse, and why his recent leaked remarks criticizing Trump will not save him. Lewis, a frequent guest on our podcast, is in the no-to-Biden camp, like Cooke. He raises an interesting point:

In the post-modern world, toughness and authenticity may be the only character issues we still care about. Anyone who wants to win the presidency would do well to start paying attention.

I agree, and on the authenticity front, most of the current GOP fails that test.

Sen. Joni Ernst blows it with farmers. This is a ready made campaign ad for her opponent, Theresa Greenfield, who was able to answer it.

Unlike Ernst, I did not grow up on a farm. And the only reason I know why this is a thing is because when I was working on the Bush campaign in rural Missouri in 2004, I would hear the commodity reports of crops on the radio and had to ask, as a city slicker, is this a normal thing? To the chuckle of our local volunteer coordinator who also thought my hatchback Honda Civic needed a “Bush/Cheney Farm and Ranch Team” bumper sticker for extra irony.

Why is Susan Collins’s PAC giving money to QAnon believers? I have my doubts this was a personal decision by Collins herself, but it certainly was one from her political apparatus. You’ve gotta be kidding me.

So, where to go from here? Well, a lot of that is up to you, reader / voter. We know what we’re going to do at The Bulwark, and it’s give you our honest take without having to tilt towards tribalism. But at Texas Monthly, Heath Mayo has a new conservative manifesto that you should read. Ted Cruz worries that if Texas goes blue, it’s all over for Republicans. He’s probably right. But when the state party makes Allen West its party chair? You might be hastening what you fear. Here’s Mayo:

It would have been nice if we had managed to change on our own, without the pressures of electoral politics. But that didn’t happen. Instead, we’re now engaged in a political fight for the state’s future. And it’s one we can win, if we enter it as happy warriors with an inspiring vision. Fear is the only thing holding us back.

The party needs to change.

Finally some good news… Out of my old hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. The U.S. Park Police killed an unarmed man, Bijan Ghaisar, on the George Washington Parkway and the facts were hidden from the public for years. Two officers were indicted this week.

Tab will return… Coca Cola is killing its first diet drink, Tab. Never really appealed to me, but come on, you know in a year from now they’re going to do limited releases. This always happens with products with a cult following.

Weekend viewing… If you didn’t stay up extra late to watch the HBO Max West Wing special, I don’t blame you. Neither did I. But I did catch portions of it today, and it really is well done, if you’re a West Wing fan.

You should also watch our friend Andy Smarick’s “Practical Wisdom In A Time Of COVID And Beyond” livestream if you’d like to lower your blood pressure.

A Servant’s Heart… It wouldn’t be an issue of Overtime without a mention of Cleveland, Shaker Heights, or Saint Louis. So let me offer you this really nice profile of one of my childhood pastors, Fr. Tom Fanta in Shaker Life magazine.

Meanwhile, in Clevelandtown…

I’m sure it’s fine.

We’re taking this show on the road… I’ll be paying a visit to the family in Saint Louis in the coming days and will report to you from all the diners and drive-ins and White Castles that I can.

Lastly, about that steak… Right as I was posting the promised pictures of my first Tomahawk steak, Twitter died! It was obviously this picture that did it:

Well, that’s it for me everyone. Have a great weekend and see you Monday! Remember, you can always send me questions, comments, or concerns at:

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