When Trump endorsed Marco Rubio for reelection today, it signaled definitively that Ivanka isn't running. Rubio, no doubt, breathed a sigh of relief that Trump doesn't have a serious MAGA lined up against him. Potential Democratic opponent, Alan Grayson, noticed the endorsement and asked "Who will endorse Rubio next? Hannibal Lecter? Vlad the Impaler? The Emperor Palpatine? Probably not, since Rubio didn’t suck up to them the same way as he did to Trump."
Trump and other Republican Party leaders have summoned top GOP campaign big money donors for a private meeting in Mar-a-Lago that began today and ends Sunday. Republican leaders fear that Trump will ask the donors to ignore the RNC, NRCC and NRSC and instead give most of their contributions to his own SuperPAC in his speech tomorrow, something he has repeatedly done with grassroots MAGA donors. Trump's SuperPAC, keep in mind, will be helping finance campaigns against GOP incumbents.
Aside from Trump, other would-be presidential candidates attending are Mike Pompeo, Ron DeSantis, Liddle Marco, Tom Cotton, Kristi Noem, Rick Scott. No Pence, who's been busy organizing his own post-Trump presidential campaign.
And, speaking of Mike Pence, who escaped with his wife from being lynched after Trump incited a MAGA rebellion against him on 1/6, Lois Beckett wondered at The Guardian this week, why the failed Trump coup isn't being referred to as an act of treason. "Federal prosecutors have brought cases against more than 300 people allegedly involved in the Capitol insurrection," she wrote. "So far, many of the rioters have been charged with lower-level offenses, like 'disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building.' A few members of extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, are facing more serious conspiracy charges. There has been some public discussion of whether some rioters should face 'sedition' charges, including an early comment by then president-elect Joe Biden that the rioting at the Capitol was an 'unprecedented assault' on democracy that 'borders on sedition.'... Treason is defined in the US constitution as 'levying war' against the United States, or 'adhering' to the enemies of the United States and 'giving them aid and comfort.' The framers had in mind 'men gathering with guns, forming an army, and marching on the seat of government.'... Sedition, in contrast, is 'a broader term for disloyal behavior' against the government."
If there is just one person guilty of treason in this whole affair, it's Trump. Should he face a firing squad? Of course he should-- and immediately. Instead, he's busying himself making a muddle of the GOP and, potentially, the country that rejected him 81,268,924 to 74,216,154 and by a margin of 64 electoral votes, having lost solid red states Arizona and Georgia as well as 3 other key states he won in 2016-- Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. This morning, Jonathan Martin and Nick Fandos reported for the NY Times that his lies about the election have sent Republican-controlled legislatures into a frenzy of potentially unconstitutional voter disenfranchisement and into a war against corporate America, the mass media and baseball. Trump's "pervasive influence in Republican circles has revealed a party thoroughly animated by a defeated incumbent-- a bizarre turn of events in American politics. Barred from Twitter, quietly disdained by many Republican officials and reduced to receiving supplicants in his tropical exile in Florida, Mr. Trump has found ways to exert an almost gravitational hold on a leaderless party just three months after the assault on the Capitol that his critics hoped would marginalize the man and taint his legacy. His preference for engaging in red-meat political fights rather than governing and policymaking have left party leaders in a state of confusion over what they stand for, even when it comes to business, which was once the business of Republicanism. Yet his single term has made it vividly clear what the far right stands against-- and how it intends to go about waging its fights.
Republicans are attempting to shift the debate to issues that are more inspiring, and unifying, within their coalition and could help them tar Democrats.
So Republicans have embraced fights over seemingly small-bore issues to make a larger argument: By emphasizing the withdrawal from publication of a handful of racially insensitive Dr. Seuss books; the rights of transgender people; and the willingness of large institutions or corporations like Major League Baseball and Coca-Cola to side with Democrats on voting rights, the right is attempting to portray a nation in the grip of elites obsessed with identity politics.
It’s a strikingly different approach from the last time Democrats had full control of government, in 2009 and 2010, when conservatives harnessed the Great Recession to stoke anger about President Barack Obama and federal spending on their way to sweeping midterm gains. But Mr. Biden, a white political veteran, is not much of a foil for the party’s far-right base and is unlikely to grow more polarizing with the country at large.
...Recent party polling indicates that, more than any issue, Republican voters crave candidates who “won’t back down in a fight with the Democrats,” a finding that showed up in a survey by the G.O.P. firm Echelon Insights earlier this year.
People who have gravitated to the right “feel the way of life that they have known is changing rapidly,” Kristen Soltis Anderson, the Republican pollster who conducted the survey, said in an interview with Ezra Klein.
Republicans have sought to stoke those fears, wielding liberal positions on issues like policing or transgender rights as culture war bludgeons, even if it means dispensing with some conservative values. In Arkansas this week, a drive by conservative legislators to make it illegal for transgender children to receive gender-affirming medication or surgery drew a veto from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican. He argued that the bill would “set new standard of legislative interference with physicians and parents” and that it failed to make exceptions for children who had already begun hormone treatments. Still, he was overridden by his party’s lawmakers, and Trump assailed him as a “lightweight RINO.’'
Yet it’s the willingness to engage in brass-knuckle political combat that’s most important in the party right now.
“It has become the overarching virtue Republicans look for in their leaders,” said Mr. Reed, the G.O.P. strategist. He said that in an earlier, less tribal era, the party would have backed off the divisive Georgia bill limiting voting access. “After business and the media circled the wagons, we would have called the legislature back in, done some fixes and moved on,” he said. “Now we just dig in.”
The shifting culture of the G.O.P. is on clear display in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis is emerging as presidential timber, almost entirely because he has weaponized news coverage critical of his handling of the coronavirus.
DeSantis’s actual response to the crisis is not what delights conservatives; rather, it’s how he bristles at skeptical coverage, just as Trump did when he was excoriating the “fake news.” The most recent example came this week when 60 Minutes aired a segment that suggested DeSantis had improperly made Publix grocery stores, which are ubiquitous in Florida, distributors of the coronavirus vaccine after the company contributed $100,000 to him.
Republicans don't care that DeSantis monkeyed with his state's COVID death statistics and don't care that Florida has a ghastly 98,325 cases per million residents-- more than Texas or California, the only states with bigger populations. Yesterday, Florida reported 7,939 new cases and another 7,121 today, bringing the state's total to 2,111,807. If DeSantis' figures can be trusted, there were 78 new COVID deaths yesterday and 83 more today, for a total of over 34,000 dead Floridians. Instead of tar-and-feathering or lynching DeSantis, many Floridians are eager to reelect him. Child rapist and all around corruption pig Matt Gaetz, now under investigation by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, knows his constituents. This morning he sent them a letter whining that he's being targeted by the liberal media and asked them to send him money. I don't have any doubts that they will.