Peter Beinert/NY Times:
Why Are There So Few Courageous Senators?
Here’s what we need to do if we want more Mitt Romneys and fewer Josh Hawleys.
Now that Donald Trump has been defanged, leading Republicans are rushing to denounce him. It’s a little late. The circumstances were different then, but a year ago, only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, backed impeachment. In a party that has been largely servile, Mr. Romney’s courage stands out.
Why, in the face of immense pressure, did Mr. Romney defend the rule of law? And what would it take to produce more senators like him? These questions are crucial if America’s constitutional system, which has been exposed as shockingly fragile, is to survive. The answer may be surprising: To get more courageous senators, Americans should elect more who are near the end of their political careers.
This doesn’t just mean old politicians — today’s average senator is, after all, over 60. It means senators with the stature to stand alone.
Actions by GOP attorneys general could damage credibility
By supporting efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election, most of the nation’s Republican state attorneys general may have undermined their offices’ long-held special status in federal courts.
In December, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed legal papers attempting to overturn the results of the presidential election based on unfounded claims of election fraud in four states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden. The Republican attorneys general for 17 other states made legal filings supporting his effort, which was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fox News Launches ‘Purge’ to ‘Get Rid of Real Journalists’
Fox News on Tuesday fired the political editor who was tasked with defending the network’s election night decisions that especially angered President Donald Trump and his allies.
Politics editor Chris Stirewalt’s exit from the network coincided with the sacking of at least 16 digital editorial staffers, including senior editors. People familiar with the situation said the layoffs—a “blood bath,” as multiple Fox News insiders described it—were perpetrated by Porter Berry, the Sean Hannity crony now in charge of remaking Fox’s digital properties in the image of its right-wing opinion programming.
Lou Zickar/USA Today:
Centrist Republicans, speak up! We must take a stand against the insurrectionists
If you are a principled centrist or principled conservative, now is not the time to remain silent.
For as the tragic events on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol made clear, the divide in the Republican Party is no longer between the center and the right wing. The divide in today’s GOP is between the insurrectionist wing and everyone else.
David Leonhardt/NY times:
And what else you need to know today.
Now a version of the mask story is repeating itself — this time involving the vaccines. Once again, the experts don’t seem to trust the public to hear the full truth.
This issue is important and complex enough that I’m going to make today’s newsletter a bit longer than usual. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com.
Right now, public discussion of the vaccines is full of warnings about their limitations: They’re not 100 percent effective. Even vaccinated people may be able to spread the virus. And people shouldn’t change their behavior once they get their shots.
These warnings have a basis in truth, just as it’s true that masks are imperfect. But the sum total of the warnings is misleading, as I heard from multiple doctors and epidemiologists last week.
“It’s driving me a little bit crazy,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health, told me.
“We’re underselling the vaccine,” Dr. Aaron Richterman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, said.
“It’s going to save your life — that’s where the emphasis has to be right now,” Dr. Peter Hotez of the Baylor College of Medicine said.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are “essentially 100 percent effective against serious disease,” Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said. “It’s ridiculously encouraging.”
But still, don’t change your behavior immediately. Iit’s a short term thing but keep your guard up until community spread drops.
Trump leaves America at its most divided since the Civil War
The January 6 assault on the US Capitol
capped four years in which Trump relentlessly stoked the nation's divisions and simultaneously provided oxygen for the growth of White nationalist extremism through his open embrace of racist language and conspiracy theories.
The result has been to raise the stakes in the ideological polarization of the parties that has been reshaping American politics for decades.
The Coming Republican Amnesia
How will the GOP recover from the Trump era? Pretend it never happened.
As Donald Trump lurches through the disastrous final days of his presidency, Republicans are just beginning to survey the wreckage of his reign. Their party has been gutted, their leader is reviled, and after four years of excusing every presidential affront to “conservative values,” their credibility is shot. How will the GOP recover from the complicity and corruption of the Trump era? To many Republicans, the answer is simple: Pretend it never happened.
Monmouth University Poll:
Authoritarianism Among Trump Voters
Among panelists who reported voting for Trump in the 2020 election, just over 4 in 10 score in the highest quartile of the Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) scale when the original survey weights from the 2019 survey are applied. This leaves just over half of Trump supporters who are not classified as having high authoritarian inclinations. [It should also be noted that only a handful of President-elect Joe Biden’s voters in the panel have a high RWA score – too few to break out in this analysis.]
Dave A Hopkins/Honest Graft:
In the End, the Trump Presidency Was a Failure on Its Own Terms
Trump succeeded in preventing Hillary Clinton from leading the country, but he wound up empowering Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer instead. He railed against liberal elites who predominate within social institutions like universities, media organizations, and technology companies, but his time in office only saw a continued progression of leftward cultural change in American society and a parallel departure of highly-educated voters from the Republican Party. The conservative intellectual project has not suffered as much damage in many decades as it did over the past four years; conservative thinkers and writers were internally divided into pro- and anti-Trump factions, were exposed as holding a limited ability to speak for the conservative mass public, and were deprived by Trump's behavior of a precious claim to moral superiority over the left. And the fact that the Trump administration is leaving office complaining of being "silenced" and "canceled" by a multi-platform social media ban imposed on its leader is evidence enough of its lack of success in gaining influence over the tech sector.
A final, inadvertantly-acknowledged testimony to the failure of the Trump administration was its prevailing communication style. Both the outgoing president and his succession of spokespeople stood out for two distinctive traits: a lack of commitment to factual accuracy and a perpetually grouchy demeanor. The typical public statement from this White House was a misleading claim delivered with a sarcastic sneer. Of course, no member of the administration would admit on the record that the Trump presidency was anything less than a parade of unparalleled triumphs. But it doesn't make sense to lie so much unless the truth isn't on your side, and there's no good reason to act so aggrieved all the time if you're really succeeding as much as you claim.