We’re in an Extraconstitutional Limbo
The president’s grasp of the reins of executive power has slipped.
Leading The Bulwark…
LAURA K. FIELD: The president’s grasp of the reins of executive power has slipped. Other elected officials must bring us back within the confines of the constitutional order.
🎧 On the Pods… 🎧
On today’s Bulwark podcast, Kim Wehle joins Charlie Sykes to break down Trump’s forthcoming second impeachment, and why it’s important.
For Bulwark+ Members… 🔐
MORNING SHOTS: Impeach. Indict. Disqualify. 🔓
CHARLIE SYKES on the final full week of Trump’s presidency….
THE TRIAD: Conservatism Is Dead 🔓
JONATHAN V. LAST: It is no longer anything but a naked pursuit of power.
Sarah and JVL have very different ideas about what to do next . . .
From The Bulwark Aggregator…
In Today’s Bulwark….
RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON: Bonfires of grievance and dispossession in a country riven by alternate realities.
WILLIAM KRISTOL: Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed…
TIM MILLER: The anti-anti-coup Trumpers have a new talking point. Don’t let them get away with it.
WILLIAM KRISTOL: We’re in a national crisis. The House and Senate should get to work.
DAVID HEAD: The amendment was not intended for this purpose, and could worsen the current instability.
LINDSAY M. CHERVINSKY: It’s rare—and historically an indicator of instability in an administration.
DANIEL N. GULLOTTA: Pictures of the insurrectionist attack evoke the infamous caning of Charles Sumner—and its troubling context.
What a Monday! The Ohio State Buckeyes play Alabama tonight for the national title, and my Cleveland Browns pulled off an improbable road win in Pittsburgh to advance in the playoffs for the first time in their new history and since I was in grade school. Browns fans were at the airport in Cleveland at 3 a.m. to cheer the players on. And while these “hype videos” don’t often sway me, seeing all these Browns great try and hype the players up before the game made me smile. #WeWantMore. On to Kansas City!
And while I’ve been a Browns pessimist in these newsletters, you have to understand that most Browns fans are. I am under no illusion about the fact that they’re facing a tough opponent in Kansas City and are not, on paper, likely to prevail. In the early aughts, there was a period of time where one of our few wins would come from beating the reigning Super Bowl champion. But regular season games are not the same as playoff games. Still, happy to be here, and it beats being bad.
I’m still mad.
I reached out to some of my friends among the U.S. Capitol Police, Hill staff, and congressional journalist friends to see how they were doing, and the Capitol community is burning with rage. Some of it has to do with how people in the press are exploiting the tragedy. Insert Sohrab Ahmari from the New York Post, who shared an item his publication published turning the politics of a dead police officer into an ideological battering ram. The author, Matthew Schmitz of First Things, was, like Ahmari, a signer of the awful First Things letter “Against the Dead Consensus.”
Schmitz and Ahmari don’t have a background on Capitol Hill—no work history there, no intimate experience with Congress and the community there. Which is fine, of course; you don’t have to have Hill experience to do good political journalism. But their unfamiliarity with the Hill—with the fact that the people on there are not just political totems but are real, live human beings—gives this grotesque article its strange, sick color. The article’s bizarre argument is undermined by the fact that, well before their article was published, it was revealed that not only was officer Sicknick a Trump supporter and a veteran who had concerns about our foreign interventions, but also a friend of a former Pelosi staffer.
These sort of personal connections are built on Capitol Hill, and why so many there are so angry to see people like Schmitz and Ahmari (and others) fire uninformed, unhelpful, and hurtful volleys. Because they have no idea what the place is like. None. And they treat it like a game, the goal of which is to score political points—in this case, from the killing of this officer. It’s cheap and it’s disgraceful.
Here’s a bit from the USA Today story that the editorial staff at the Post either failed to read or ignored before hitting publish:
In Washington, D.C., Caroline Behringer, a former staffer who worked for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, recalled Sicknick greeting her every morning when she arrived at south entrance of the U.S. Capitol.
"He was the first face I saw every morning when I came to work," she recalled of her time working for Pelosi, who was then the House minority leader.
Sicknick was a quiet, "kind face" and the pair bonded over their love of the outdoors, she said. He often talked about how much he looked forward to getting outside and fishing once he was off of work.
As the 2016 election neared, Behringer said she and Sicknick, a supporter of the then-candidate Donald Trump, traded barbs and joked whether he would prevail over the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
"We would kind of trade jabs about who was going to win and kind of make fun of each other for our sides being in the lead," she said.
The day after the election, Nov. 9, 2016, Behringer recalled being devastated by the outcome and struggling to face the day as she approached the Capitol Building. As she walked up, the doors had been thrown open by two other officers, a request made by Sicknick when he saw her approaching.
"I collapsed into him in tears and I knew he was a Trump supporter – he was an outspoken Trump supporter – and he put that aside in that moment to comfort a friend and it was a small gesture of kindness, but one that has always stuck with me," she said.
Behringer said she's spoken to a number of people who work on Capitol Hill who are heartbroken by Sicknick's loss, emphasizing the officers there are not just Capitol Police but also family.
"At the same time that there was an attack on our country, there was an invasion on our home and an attack on our family," she said. "They were in our offices, they were attacking our friends and family and I think that's just incredibly hard for people to process."
People who never experienced that, opining on the personal politics of complete strangers, do not understand the Capitol or its culture. I don’t know if Pelosi called Behringer, as she is a bit busy these days, but Congress is a place where years after working there you reach out to your friends who are still in the thick of it and check on them when something bad happens. But at the very least, bosses are made aware of these connections so they can reach out at some point.
Schmitz, Ahmari and the Post are exploiting a man’s death for partisan gain and profit. For shame. And in that “Dead Consensus” letter, did you forget the plank you wrote entitled: “We reject attempts to compromise on human dignity.”
Guess what? You just compromised.
A prayer for Howard Liebengood. The longtime USCP officer passed away this weekend after taking his own life. I didn’t know him, but I know people who worked with him, and he was a good man, I’m told. After an event like this, many of the 2,000 sworn members of the U.S. Capitol police are going to have to deal with the PTSD and lifelong effects of January 6. Please pray for them and their families.
The American Abyss... Also at the Times, this great item from Timothy Snyder on fascism in America and what comes next.
Election truthers, call your office. The folks at Cumulus Radio have informed staff that further election trutherism will lead to termination.
Timing is everything... Dave Weigel observes...
This is amazing...
The Grift Continues...
Yes, it was a coup... Here’s why. Writing at Politico,Fiona Hill comments:
The good news for the United States is that Trump’s “self-coup” failed. The bad news is that his supporters still believe the false narrative, the Big Lie that he won the election. Trump has not repudiated it, nor have the House and Senate Republicans who voted against the Electoral College results. Millions of people still think the election was stolen. They still support Trump the person, not the Republican Party, and many are prepared to take further action on his behalf.
As in the case of other coup attempts, the president’s actions have put us on the brink of civil war. Trump did not overturn the election results, but, just as he intended, he disrupted the peaceful democratic transition of executive power.
Wait... Iran? Sen. Susan Collins, writing in The Bangor Daily News observes her first fear was that Iran was finally making good on their promise. Didn’t her staff tell her who was outside, en masse? I mean.. Really?
You can call me the Manatee. A Trump supporter apparently carved “TRUMP” on a Manatee in Florida. I did not believe this at first, either, but apparently there is video evidence of it, too. Who uses a Manatee as a billboard other than a psychopath who should be involuntarily committed?
Should the President be able to revoke Medals of Freedom issued by past Presidents? A few years ago, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) authored a bill making it a crime for people whose Presidential Medal of Freedom was revoked to display it would be a crime. But that was for Bill Cosby, issued the medal by Bush, was a cudgel Gosar used to encourage Obama to revoke it. (Obama didn't.)
The bill had findings, but didn’t seem to me to stipulate support, other than Cosby-specific, for allowing future Presidents to revoke such medals.
There really isn’t any precedent to revoke the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and that’s what Obama said when called out about it. Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier was a co-sponsor of the bill, too. Talk about an odd couple.
So, I texted Rep. Gosar this morning asking if he’d be reintroducing legislation this Congress to make displaying revoked Medals of Freedom a crime again? And whether he thinks Biden “should have the authority to revoke Medals of Freedom?” As of the time of this writing, he has not written back. I’ll let you know if I hear back.
That’s it for me for today… I have to go make some tailgate carne asada tacos before the Buckeyes face off against that team from Alabama. #GoBuckeyes
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