Why Ukraine Is Dangerous to Putin
Plus, are Black voters really leaving the Democratic party?
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: What Courage Looks Like
ATMA🎧: Should Disney Have Reacted to Florida's Controversial Bill?🔐
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
YEVGENY SIMKIN: Why Ukraine Is Dangerous to Putin.
Ukrainians really are “Russian” in every sense of the word. I’m not implying that Ukrainians don’t have a sovereign nation—they absolutely do. But culturally, and ethnically, and in any other way that matters—they’re the same people. They tell their children the same fairy tales, they listen to the same musicians. Heck, I’m Russian but until the Soviet Union broke up I never even considered that my best friend was “Ukrainian” (he’s from Kyiv) or even that my father’s parents were both from Ukraine. So maybe this makes me half Ukrainian? It’s hard to say. My family were Jews on a long slog from Spain by they time they made it to that part of the world. And today I live in Canada.
The point is: Until the Maidan, Ukraine existed in the same bucket of excrement in which Russia has lived since the revolution. They’ve had one strongman after another robbing the nation blind and subjugating the people.
But then a small miracle happened: The young people of Ukraine had enough. And they managed to overthrow Putin’s puppet and elect someone with eyes squarely on the West.
Now Putin can’t have this.
Putin has blown up Russia’s 30-year relationship with the West, and his country has taken a North Korea-style turn. And those are good things in Putin’s eyes. The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser joins Charlie Sykes on today’s podcast.
Bulwark+ members can listen to an ad-free version of this podcast on the player of their choice. Learn more at Bulwark+ Podcast FAQ.
THEODORE R. JOHNSON: Are Black Voters Really Leaving the Democratic Party?
Pull up a chair. We need to talk about black voters.
There is a growing belief that a small, but notable, group of black voters is becoming disenchanted with the Democratic party and that a window is opening for Republicans to begin chipping away at the most stalwart and enduring segment of the Democrats’ electoral coalition.
The genesis of this latest wave of speculation began in the run-up to the 2020 election, when Donald Trump made an explicit play for more support from black voters, especially the men. Initial exit polls suggested it may have worked: Trump seemed to make measurable gains with black voters. And in the months since President Joe Biden’s inauguration, his dwindling approval numbers among black Americans has added additional heft to the idea that a change may be underway.
If you hold all this up to the light at just the right angle, you might be excused for thinking that there may be some minor partisan realignment underway within the black electorate. But—and I cannot say this strongly enough—it ain’t happening.
ADAM J. WHITE: The Senate Is a Symptom.
The crisis in Senate confirmations was the subject of a March 3 hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Reform. (I was one of the hearing’s witnesses; you can read my written testimony here.) Twelve hundred leadership positions in the federal agencies need the Senate’s confirmation to a presidential appointment, often in the first year of a new presidency. But the Senate is confirming them ever more slowly: It confirmed only 41 percent of President Biden’s first-year nominations, and only 57 percent of President Trump’s, according to the Partnership for Public Service. (Two decades ago, in President Bush’s first year, it confirmed 75 percent of his nominations.)
Meanwhile, presidents are becoming much more comfortable filling vacant positions with “acting” officers for long periods of time, avoiding the Senate confirmation process.
This degrades administration, making agencies’ leadership less stable, and also less weighty in the eyes of bureaucrats and presidents alike. Senate-confirmed leadership provides a crucial counterweight to both a president’s worst instincts and a bureaucracy’s worst tendencies. A parade of “acting” appointees, short-term tourists atop the administrative state, can provide neither.
SHAY KHATIRI: The Clock Is Running Out on Putin’s Invasion.
For Putin, a change of strategy will require coming clean to the Russian people about the scale of the war, something that would incur a domestic political cost for him. He has obscured the truth about the war from the Russian people, presenting it as a modest escalation of the ongoing war in Donbas. Assuming that Ukrainian military forces continue to hold as well as they have been, and that food and supplies continue to reach the tens of millions of Ukrainian people who haven’t fled the country, Russia will need a greater number of troops to occupy Ukraine—estimates go up to 800,000 troops, roughly the size of the entire Russian military. To achieve this level, Russia would have to call on its reserves, which have all the same problems of the current invading force, but much worse. (Putin has pledged not to call up reservists, not that his word counts for anything.)
Time may be running out for Putin to shift to a winning strategy. Momentum is a major factor in war, and if his forces lose it, they might not be able to get it back. In this sense, the Ukrainians have a structural advantage: Russian victory would require the complete defeat of armed Ukrainian resistance and political control of the country; for the Ukrainians, victory requires only that the resistance continues until the invaders decide to leave, be it in weeks, months, or years.
RIP Pierre Zakrzewski… A Fox News cameraman killed in Ukraine, remembered by colleagues as a consummate pro.
Paradise crushed… As you read this, I’ll be on a plane back to D.C. from Florida, where I was visiting my parents. I am not a huge fan of the “MAGA megachurch”, as I called it, but when your family lives some place, you go visit them. Virginia is more my speed: Warm enough, but also having seasons, and not as cold and wintery as Cleveland. While not a fan of the beach, Virginia has those.
As a kid, we’d come to Florida and as I got older, I learned about the swampland scams. And then, just this trip, I drove by one. I was fascinated, so I have this story to recommend as today’s #longread.
I was this close to an Eagle on a 372 yard par four. I shot a 99, which while not good, wasn’t terrible for my second full round in three years.
I use orange balls for two reasons: 1.) The Cleveland Browns and 2.) I play golf so infrequently these days, it makes it easier to find my drive.
What could go wrong? Ohio has passed permit-less conceal and carry. As a gun owner and holder of such a permit, letting untrained people carry guns around is just a bad idea. Most states do not set the bar very high on training, and the permit costs are typically very low. This is a bad law.
A look at Kyiv… With the mayor.
Romney warns of “extraordinary challenge” to preserve democracy… CBS’s Robert Costa reports on the remarks at a fundraiser for Liz Cheney:
"People of character and courage… have stood up for right at times when others want to look away. Such a person is Liz Cheney."
Lara Logan pushing Putin propaganda… Will Fox do anything about it? This, after her crazy Fauci remarks… We’ll see.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.