What Makes a Republican a “RINO”?
Plus, the New MAGA Establishment.
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WILL SALETAN: What Makes a Republican a “RINO”?
On Saturday, Donald Trump went to Wyoming to campaign against Republican Rep. Liz Cheney. He repeatedly called her a “RINO” and urged the state’s voters to elect her challenger, Harriet Hageman. But Trump’s speech exposed how the meaning of “RINO” has changed. It used to refer to people who weren’t Reagan conservatives. Now it refers to people who are.
The substantive positions for which Trump praised Hageman—on oil drilling, guns, crime, and border enforcement—were no different from Cheney’s. In fact, according to the American Conservative Union, Cheney’s voting record is far more conservative than the record of Rep. Elise Stefanik, who, at Trump’s behest, replaced her last year as chair of the House Republican Conference.
In his speech, Trump called Cheney a “lapdog” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But that accusation, too, is bogus: Cheney has voted against Pelosi’s positions more consistently than have the top three officials in the House Republican Conference.
WILLIAM KRISTOL: The New MAGA Establishment.
If you want to understand what an “establishment” is in politics, it is this: A collection of people, institutions, and ideas which are not all powerful but are dominant to the point of being all-encompassing. The establishment can be, every once in a while, circumvented or leapfrogged. But it cannot be successfully opposed. Which is why the Reagan legacy remained in firm control of the GOP for 28 years after Reagan had left office.
America’s largest Protestant denomination has lost more than a million members over the past three years. Meanwhile, many Evangelicals can’t tell the difference between gospel and politics. Russell Moore joins Charlie Sykes on today’s podcast.
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MONA CHAREN: Retire These Gun Myths.
The aftermath of a horrific mass shooting is not the time one would usually turn to a humor site, and yet, the Onion had an insightful take on Uvalde. The headline: “‘No Way to Prevent This’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Occurs.” The piece quotes a fictitious citizen: “‘This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,’ said Idaho resident Kathy Miller.”
And here’s the kicker—the Onion has run pieces with that same headline for years.
As I write, there are reports of yet another attack in Tulsa. Our mass shooting problem—there have been an average of two per month for the past 13 years —arises from a familiar stew of history, culture, law, and commerce. And certain facts loom large. Yes, we are among the most violent countries in the advanced industrial world, and have long been. Yes, guns have always been plentiful whereas mass shootings are a relatively new disease. Yes, mass shootings represent a small fraction of gun deaths in America. And yes, the Second Amendment makes limiting guns more difficult here than in Canada, Australia, or other places. Those are big, hulking obstacles to solving our problem. But there are other assumptions that are trotted out regularly in our hoary gun discussions that are less daunting than they appear.
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