The Absentee President

Donald Trump rarely shows up to the West Wing—and when he does? Well...

You’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of this building in the coming weeks. In newscasts, in commercials, on social media.

The death of RBG threw a Everclear cured Duraflame log on the already hot burning fire of the last weeks of the 2020 race.

Buckle up, we have a lot to get through today. And if you’d like to support our new venture, Bulwark+, you can right here:

Leading The Bulwark

The Absentee President

Briam Karem: Donald Trump rarely shows up to the West Wing—and when he does, he is too incompetent to effectively fulfill his oath of office.

On the Pods

Special Edition: What Happens After RBG?

On a special edition of The Bulwark Podcast, JVL, Sarah, and Jim join host Charlie Sykes to discuss how the Supreme Court vacancy will impact the 2020 election.

Amanda Carpenter on Mitch McConnell's Calculation

Amanda Carpenter joins Charlie Sykes to discuss the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and her item on why Mitch McConnell will hold a vote on a replacement before the election.

If Trump Loses, Should We Lock Him Up?

Politico’s Tim Alberta joins the BTD panel to talk about changing suburbs, the Middle East breakthrough, Electoral College woes, and perp walking ex-presidents.

The Bulwark Goes to Hollywood with Chris Fenton

This week, Sonny talks to “Feeding the Dragon” author Chris Fenton.

Editor’s note: No pictures today due to length. Click the headline to listen.

From The Bulwark Aggregator

Also in The Bulwark…

How Biden Will Handle the Supreme Court Vacancy

William Kristol: It will not be hard for Joe Biden to present himself as the pro-RBG, pro-Supreme Court, and pro-Roe v. Wade candidate. And in each of those cases, he will be sitting smack-dab in the center of the majority opinion. Which is most likely a winning place to be.

But No One!

Christian Schneider: By replacing Ginsburg, Trump may be making himself obsolete.

Save the Vote, Save the Court

Adam J. White: Given what is at stake—all of what is at stake—Republican senators should not vote on a nomination before the presidential election. They should constrain the Senate with the principle that they used to constrain it four years ago. 

Mitch McConnell’s Calculation

Amanda Carpenter: There is going to be a SCOTUS vote before the election.

Why We Love to Talk Like Pirates

David Head: Cultural and literary fascination with buccaneers goes back to when they were still swarming the seas.

William Barr’s Disastrous Misunderstanding of the Attorney General’s Role

Austin Sarat: The United States will be better off when we have an AG with a sense of fair play, human kindness, and humility – all virtues which Barr regularly betrays.

Justice Ginsburg: A Model of Civility

Kim Wehle: In her decency, critical thinking, and grace, she was exactly what the soul of America is lacking right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Coming Political Crisis

Jonathan V. Last: The annus horribilis of 2020 lurches on.


How was your weekend? Aside from weekend podcasts and newsletters and the like, we took the kids out to the end of I-66 and went apple picking. At least that was the plan. But it was such a great day lots of other people had the same idea, so we picked apples from baskets in their country store rather than from trees.

I was able to get cute pictures of the twins on this old tractor, at least. But we also stopped at a butcher shop in Front Royal, Virginia, called Two Fat Butchers. Just look at this layout.

As longtime readers know, I love to barbecue on my PK Grill, so I brought a cooler and some ice packs and stocked up on some meat. Their beer bratwursts? Fantastic. Their Two Fat bratwurst, made of pork, beef, bacon, and with a spicy kick, is one of the best bratwursts I’ve ever had.

So if you’re ever out this way, trust me. Get some. And don’t worry, Charlie Sykes, I remain a loyal Johnsonville customer. I can’t drive 2.5 hours round trip for brats each weekend. Their cheddar tailgate brats remain my favorite.

Things are going great for the Ohio Republican Party…


A contrast in ads. Look at this ad by Kelly Loeffler. I am not pulling your leg. This is a real ad.

Now, look at this ad by Martha McSally. Far less offensive, but still, there’s something a bit off about a 10+ year retiree of a military service branch recreating an ad like this. Especially when candidates are typically careful to avoid the appearance of a military endorsement in their ads. (Look at this one from the last time McSally ran.)

Lastly, look at Mark Kelly’s recent ad.

Which of these strikes you as normal?

How Bill Barr Distorted the DOJ. Our friends at Checks & Balances have a wonderful new podcast out (that I help produce) with host Paul Rosenzweig chatting with law professor Claire Finkelstein and Donald B. Ayer about their forthcoming report about Bill Barr’s DOJ and the rule of law.

Related… Read this report from Edgar Chen at Just Security.

This person does not exist. I’ve long warned about how AI (and lax internet usage) can result in fake people that appear totally real. Look at this.

Waking up Senators does not help. It’s your right to protest and make your voice heard, but who does this convince? Nobody.

Not a parody. The gig economy has moved into the eviction market.

The calls are coming from inside the house… One of Dr. Fauci’s biggest critics on the right was a pseudonymous Red State editor who… worked for him. Talk about the deep state! After being revealed, he retired from federal service.

That’s it for today. Feel free to share today’s Overtime with your friends!

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