Leading The Bulwark…
The Costs of Too Much Budget Stimulus
DESMOND LACHMAN: The economy needs fiscal and monetary support—but not more than it can afford.
🎧 On the Pods… 🎧
Amanda Carpenter: The Right’s Free Speech Scam
On today’s Bulwark podcast, Amanda Carpenter joins Charlie Sykes to talk about the upcoming impeachment trial and how the GOP will use “free speech” as a way to argue Trump shouldn’t be barred from holding future office.
Is Compromise Alive?
Tom Nichols joins to consider the state of governance and GOP self-policing.
For Bulwark+ Members… 🔐
MORNING SHOTS: The Prodigal Republicans 🔓
CHARLIE SYKES on The Never Again Trumpers.
THE TRIAD: Get the Shot. 🔐
JONATHAN V. LAST: We have to start fighting the vaccine demand problem right now.
From The Bulwark Aggregator…
The MyPillow Guy’s Fever Dream – James Poniewozik, The New York Times
Bubble Pop: Janet Yellen Could Create An Economic Crisis – Desmond Lachman, 1945
Why Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are at odds – Josh Kraushaar, National Journal
You Don’t Have to Be Recruited to Work for Russian Intelligence – Michael Weiss, Newlines Magazine
For One GameStop Trader, the Wild Ride Was Almost as Good as the Enormous Payoff – Gregory Zuckerman, The Wall Street Journal
My Sister Was Disappeared 43 Years Ago – Daniel Loedel, The Atlantic
In Today’s Bulwark….
The Trouble with Biden’s Iran Envoy
SHAY KHATIRI: Critics of Robert Malley worry about his pro-Iran sympathies. They should worry more about his outdated views.
Where Is the Love?
LINDSEY APPIAH: Reflections from the forgotten flock of non-white Evangelicals.
The Shiny Shallowness of Today’s Country Music
SCOTT YENOR AND GREG MCBRAYER: Music Row puts out songs that ignore or even make light of the serious human problems that were once country staples.
It’s Not Your Fault Your TV Doesn’t Work Right
TONY DAVIS: Increasingly complicated and complex home entertainment systems and standards demonstrate just why we should hope theaters never go away.
The House GOP’s Dangerous Swerves
BRIAN KAREM: When it comes to crazy or sane, you have to pick a lane.
Let’s talk about last night’s Super Bowl. A few observations before I get to ads, because since I’m a Browns fan, I rarely care about the game itself. As a marketing grad, I care more about the ads.
It is always a good thing when Roger Goodell gets booed by fans. He needs to know that fans know he is a bad commissioner. People (especially right wingers these days) say they’re never going to watch football, but they’re lying. Just like Ted Cruz probably still owns Nikes and uses a Keurig in his office. Boycotts don’t last unless you lose your team. Even then. Is that cancel culture? Hard to tell.
I had no dog in this fight. I think Tom Brady, while talented, is a cheater.
I don’t like repeats.
The Browns could have beat the Chiefs if Roger Goodell was good at his job and allowed helmet to helmet calls to be reviewable. Not that I’m sure the Browns would have made it to the big game necessarily. But hey, it was possible.
While the game changes (Tom Brady has won Super Bowls in three concurrent decades), Patrick Mahomes is going to take Brady’s torch. Brady will retire eventually. He grew up in a different NFL that played football differently. Go watch any AFC matchup from the 1980s if you disagree. It’s like they’re playing a different game than what we even saw 20 years ago. Those two throws on third and fourth downs from Mahomes? Literal insanity.
Mahomes threw this ball, literally horizontal with the ground, 30 yards, and it hit his target in the face. It would have been a touchdown if he caught it.
They say “defense wins championships” and it this case it did. It usually does. But pocket QBs are likely a thing of the past and QBs like Mahomes are the future.
The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have…
People hated the Vince Lombardi ad the NFL put together for last night’s game. But people are often stupid, and while the NFL may be evil and Roger Goodell might be a horrible commissioner, the NFL excels at marketing.
This was the best ad of the night.
In fact, watching it made me tear up a little.
Check it out:
Here’s why the ad was the best: It had something for everyone. Very rarely do ads have a “hook” for every viewer. This one did. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a market segment that couldn’t find something in this ad that appealed to them, unless that market segment was Extremely Mad, Very Online Conservatives Who Won’t Watch The NFL Because of Colin Kaepernick or Black Lives Matter. (Which is Kurt Schlichter and a few other people at Breitbart and maybe the Daily Wire.)
The NFL said it was “A voice from the past. A message for today.”
The ad appeared first before the game started, and my wife noticed I was wiping my eyes. I guess there’s a reason I work in politics and policy and punditry and not being an advertising creative like I had once aspired to.
My late grandfather was born a few years before Lombardi, one of the most legendary coaches in the game (outside of Paul Brown) was. He dressed very much like Lombardi did. I know I’ve shared this image before, but here is me with my grandfather, Charles Swift, at an Indians game in the early 1990s.
There’s just this generational resemblance there, the glasses, the hat, the buttoned collar, the jacket. I internalized Vince Lombardi as my late grandfather. That’s just how guys born before 1915 dressed as older men.
And then, there was this scene. The steely-eyed girl playing catch with her dad in a field, seeing Lombardi look at her, smile, nod, and give a tip of the cap.
It was like one of my twin daughters saw the ghost of a great grandfather they never met suggesting: “I’m proud of you.”
Emotionally, I got sacked big time.
The ad is inspirational, and almost every scene is perfect. The NFL is the richest league in sports and they handled COVID-19 better than others. Mainly because they could afford to. But at the end of the day, they’re a business that still wants to make money. And that’s what this ad is about. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Here’s the script of the ad, and I’d welcome any disagreement from readers if you can point to a better Super Bowl ad:
The road has been rough.
The load, heavy.
And nothing from hell to sky has turned us back.
We did not get here alone.
We arrived as one.
And after all the cheers have died down.
And the stadium is empty.
After the headlines have been written.
The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.
And I firmly believe in our finest hour,
Our greatest fulfillment to all we hold dear,
Is that moment: when we work our hearts out in good cause,
And lie exhausted on the field of battle, victorious.
Because it’s not whether we get knocked down,
But whether we get back up.
If you want to learn more about how they made Vince Lombardi come back to life, click here. (And yes, after consulting with Sonny Bunch, we concluded that the score was Hans Zimmer, from The Thin Red Line.)
What Became of Trump’s Election Dead-Enders… A must read from Asawin Suebsaeng and Will Sommer at The Daily Beast. It’s a deep dive into the crazy.
Meanwhile, from the Falkirk Center…
Radicalizing Against Democracy… In The Atlantic, Chris Hayes writes:
[T]he fight to democratize political power is precisely what is most necessary. Any progress toward that goal, any effort to push back against minoritarian control, will lead to bitter conflict. But there is no way to avoid that fight if we’re to defeat the growing faction that seeks to destroy majority rule. No substantive victories can endure unless democracy is refortified against its foes. That task comes first.
A sad story. The suicide of this teenager might not be something you want to read.
Is this how I die? What it was like to be a journalist during the insurrection.
Making It Easier to Vote Is Good for Republicans, Too… This should be evident to all, but the data bears this out, too.
Do you wanna see my SCIF? Kinda weird!
Our semi-conductor shortage… It is here to haunt us. And until COVID-19 is over, it is probably here to stay.
In a world, where Dan Crenshaw spends lots of time time making movies to elect bad Republicans… He is also here to criticize celebrities for having too much free time during a pandemic that has ravaged the movie industry.
Let’s end on a good note. Fellow Ignatius grad, Rep. Ted Lieu shares this thread from Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), who you might know as the guy who spent time cleaning up the Capitol after the insurrection.
My only complaint is that he might have compromised evidence that should send more insurrectionists to prison, and the USCP is pretty deferential to a member, but what he did was a symbol of American greatness. Read the thread and see what he learned. And why America is great.
That’s it for me for today. We’ll see you tomorrow: Questions, comments, thoughts? You know how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not yet a member, we’d love to have you.
If you are a member, we do offer gift memberships for friends and family. We’d love to have them, too.