As a textual addition to that picture, let's go to Charles C. W. Cooke, who has thoughts on the Mutual Assured Destruction of our political system: ‘Not Trump’ Is Not Enough. His bottom line:
What the hell are the Democrats thinking? Having become frivolous, vainglorious, and suicidal, the Republican Party is on the verge of super-gluing itself to its risible liability of a perma-candidate for the eighth year in a row. As a countermeasure, the Democrats have embarked on an experiment in political masochism that would have made George McGovern blush. The president has grown so transparently senile that one half-expects to see a set of jumper cables protruding from his back; the Democrats’ best rejoinder to this charge is “No, he’s not.” The economy is widely disesteemed; the Democrats have christened it “Bidenomics.” The vice president remains unable to speak in intelligible human sentences; the Democrats have concluded that she’s just one more TV appearance away from being designated as a National Treasure. When, in the BBC’s Blackadder Goes Forth, General Melchett explained that “if nothing else works, a total pigheaded unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through,” the line was intended as satire, not advice. In 2023, it might as well be the Democratic Party’s election slogan: “Vote for Us — We Have No Other Plan.”
That's from the January 2024 print version of National Review, and that's allegedly a "gifted" link. See if it works, and if it does, read the whole thing.
And now on to our usual Sunday feature looking at the betting odds:
|Robert Kennedy Jr
I guess the big news here is that Ron DeSantis is back, baby. Barely meeting our 2% inclusion criterion. And Trump has significantly improved his probability. No doubt this news had something to do with that: Trump Takes 2024 Lead as Biden Approval Hits New Low, WSJ Poll Finds.
President Biden’s political standing is at its weakest point of his presidency, a new Wall Street Journal poll finds, with voters giving him his lowest job-performance marks and favoring Donald Trump for the first time in a head-to-head test of the likely 2024 presidential matchup.
Biden lags behind Trump by 4 percentage points, 47% to 43%, on a hypothetical ballot with only those two candidates. Trump’s lead expands to 6 points, 37% to 31%, when five potential third-party and independent candidates are added to the mix. They take a combined 17% support, with Democrat-turned-independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. drawing the most, at 8%.
Also of note:
So why aren't the Democrats dumping Biden? Kevin D. Williamson looks at, and debunks, one popular theory: It Isn’t About Kamala Harris.
One thing that a whole lot of Republicans and Democrats agree on: The Democrats would be much better off replacing Joe Biden as their 2024 nominee, but they can’t because it would be too awkward to pass over Kamala Harris, who would be an even worse nominee than Biden.
As almost always is the case when Republicans and Democrats agree, this claim is fundamentally wrong.
Vice President Harris is hardly holding the conch in the Democrats’ election-season version of Lord of the Flies. She is, in a real sense, in a worse position than anybody else trying to figure out what to do about the problem she presents. The idea that she is some kind of hostage-taker who is keeping the Democrats from replacing Biden—that she would not or could not step aside without causing an identity-politics tantrum on the left—is pure nonsense. As things stand, Harris has two possible bad outcomes in front of her if she and Biden are the 2024 ticket: One, they lose, and she gets blamed either for being an encumbrance who thwarted efforts to replace Biden or simply for dragging down the ticket with her personal unpopularity and her political career comes to an end; two, they win, and she gets stuffed into the national sock drawer that is the vice presidency for another four years, waiting for her political career to come to an end. Harris isn’t exactly Niccolo Machiavelli, but she is smart enough to see how things stand. The notion that she would make a stink in order to hold on to the vice presidency—an office in which she has foundered badly and has been subjected to contemptuous treatment by her boss and her party—is nonsense.
Instead, KDW's theory is our "weird, increasingly cultic approach to the presidency." It's apparently an unpaywalled article, so check it out and see what you think.
Just following orders. John Daniel Davidson at the Federalist reports: The Press Fearmongers About Trump At The Behest Of Biden.
So what’s with the coordinated media campaign this week claiming a second Trump term will usher in the end of the republic and the rise of a fascist dictatorship?
Well, three weeks ago, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign scolded the press for not attacking Donald Trump hard enough, specifically calling out The New York Times, saying “it’s time to meet the moment and responsibly inform the electorate of what their lives might look like if the leading GOP candidate for president is allowed back in the WH.”
As my colleague David Harsanyi noted at the time, the Biden camp wasn’t working the refs, it was demanding obedience. “And the fact that the White House can brazenly petition a supposedly free press to join his campaign effort tells us a lot about how little the contemporary Democrat cares for a free press.”
We looked at the panicking lapdogs last Monday.
I'm a Never-Trumper so… I was intrigued by the headline on this column from Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: Never Trumpers Never Learn. Hey, I'd like to think I'm ready to learn, so let's see … oh, he's not talking about me. Instead, he reviews the history of 2016's Russia, Russia, Russia hoax that boomeranged on Hillary, and…
In some sense, this accident is already trying to replay itself in 2024. The latest exhibit is the Kagan essay in the Washington Post. Work through its 6,000-word argument and try to discern how Mr. Trump, with his limited appeal to an uninfluential base, checks and balances, and a mobilized opposition controlling almost every establishment institution, is supposed to make himself a dictator, when, say, FDR, with the most powerful electoral coalition in history, a 75% approval rating, and a world war to fight couldn’t have done so.
It makes no sense and isn’t required to. Mr. Kagan replicates the failed strategy of the past eight years: Donald Trump is so bad, we must lie about him. The lies are so obvious and easily discovered, though, they end up validating Mr. Trump’s critique of the establishment and win him more voters. In fact, the only way not to see Mr. Kagan as dotty is to assume he’s trying deliberately to justify civil disorder and unconstitutional resistance when Mr. Trump is elected.
Interestingly, the Post itself seems to have gagged on Mr. Kagan. With an insightful and well-balanced news report a few days later, it not only gave (as the press rarely does) the complete context of recent overplayed Trump quips. It went out of its way to note that the “dictator” talk comes from Democrats desperate over Mr. Biden’s sagging polls. Maybe Trump opponents are finally wising up to their own self-defeating tactics. Seeing the ex-president for what he is but knowing something about dictators, the former CIA analyst and formidable political philosopher Martin Gurri writes at Unherd.com: “Relax. Trump is too old, too isolated, and too ADD to have a shot at dictatorship—and if he tried, the result would be comedy rather than tyranny.”
A second Trump term, in my view, would be useless for America. His opponents, as I’ve been pointing out since 2016, are nonetheless working hard to make it happen.
And (see the table above) they are having some success at that endeavour.
Pun Salad agrees with Jeff Maurer. Specifically: Republicans Could Own the Libs by Nominating Nikki Haley.
And Pun Salad (with sadness) also agrees with his subhed: "But they probably won't."
Haley has become the candidate of choice of the Republican donor class. She’s been surging in the polls, though that statement needs a galaxy of context: Her numbers have roughly doubled in a few months, but she still trails Trump by 50. She was absolutely treated like the frontrunner in last night’s debate: DeSantis and Ramaswamy attacked her early and often. Of course, Ramaswamy’s attacks may have helped Haley more than they hurt; Ramaswamy is so unlikable that most people probably instinctively take the non-Ramaswamy side in any dispute. He truly is an obnoxious shit smear of a man; the crowd — which was full of Republicans — boo’d him like he was Jane Fonda at a VFW meeting. I thought Megan Kelly might punch him in the mouth; if she had, then she would probably be the presumptive nominee. Ramaswamy attacked Haley’s intelligence, he said she doesn’t know things that his three year-old knows, and he also did this:
Fun fact: Vivek's even lower at EBO than Kamala.
But is she corrupt? Say it ain't so, Christian Britschgi! Nikki Haley Opposed Boeing Subsidies at Tonight's GOP Debate. As Governor, She Gave Boeing Millions.
At tonight's Republican presidential debate, former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley took a lot of flak for her entanglements with corporate America.
"You left government service in 2018 with just $100,000 in the bank. Five years later, you're reportedly worth $8 million, thanks to lucrative corporate speeches and board memberships like you had with Boeing," said rival candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.
Haley defended her record by saying that when Boeing started to ask for government bailouts during the pandemic, she resigned from the board on principle.
I'd certainly wish that Nikki scored higher on my Personal Political Purity Test. But she easily beats the other likely candidates.