The Problem with Tribalism

Andrew Sullivan: “It triggers a deep and visceral response: a defense of the tribe before all other considerations. That means, in its modern manifestation, that the tribe comes before the country as a whole, before any neutral institutions that get in its way, before reason and empiricism, and before the rule of law. It means loyalty to the tribe — and its current chief — is enforced relentlessly. And this, it seems to me, is the underlying reason why the investigation into Russian interference in the last election is now under such attack and in such trouble. In a tribalized society, there can be no legitimacy for an independent inquiry, indifferent to tribal politics. In this fray, no one is allowed to be above it.”

“On the face of it, of course, no one even faintly patriotic should object to investigating how a foreign power tried to manipulate American democracy, as our intelligence agencies have reported. And yet one party is quite obviously doing all it can to undermine such a project — even when it is led by a Republican of previously unimpeachable integrity, Robert Mueller. Tribalism does not spare the FBI; it cannot tolerate an independent Department of Justice; it sees even a Republican like Mueller as suspect; and it sees members of another tribe as incapable of performing their jobs without bias.”

RNC May Block Ted Cruz-Like Candidates In 2020

BuzzFeed News: “Ted Cruz’s micro-level attention to delegate math in 2016 kept him alive longer in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and prompted eventual winner Donald Trump to stew over what he called a ‘crooked deal’ and ‘rigged system.'”

“The kind of insider politicking that Cruz mastered at state caucuses and conventions now appears to be the target of a rule change the Republican National Committee is exploring. Under a proposal discussed this week during the party’s winter meetings, states that hold primaries for rank-and-file voters — rather than those less accessible contests — could receive extra delegates to the national convention.”

GOP Lawmaker Disputes Trump’s Claim of Unity

Retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) likened the Republican party’s efforts to avoid discussing difficult issues to “a dysfunctional family. Dad’s drunk again but we don’t talk about it,” Politico reports.

Said Dent: “DACA, debt ceiling, budget, agreement, omnibus? There aren’t 218 votes on those. Are we united on issues? No. We never are. It’s not going to change now.”

Trump Has Finally Won Over Republican Lawmakers

Washington Post: “They have begun to adapt to his unpredictable nature and, when it comes to investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign and presidential actions, Republicans have increasingly become strong defenders in a bid to invalidate his Democratic tormentors and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.”

“Even those Republicans that still hesitate to embrace Trump have come to grips with the fact that voters chose this particular mode of operation — and no longer expect him to change course.”

RNC Holds Huge Financial Edge Heading Into Midterms

Washington Post: “The RNC, the GOP House and Senate party committees and the two main Republican congressional super PACs together raised nearly $289 million in 2017, according to filings and news reports. Donations to the RNC made up nearly half of that total. And 44 percent of the $123 million raised by the RNC came from small-dollar contributions of less than $200.”

“The Democratic National Committee trailed far behind its Republican counterpart, raising $64.5 million in 2017. But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year both outraised their respective GOP counterparts, the National Republican Senate Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.”

Trump’s Speech Exposed GOP’s Lack of Direction

Ramesh Ponnuru: “Trump’s departure from State of the Union norms is partly a function of what we might call, optimistically, his novel governing style. But it also reflects his party’s lack of an agenda. The congressional Republicans don’t have any clearer sense of what they want to do in 2018. There’s nothing they all want to do legislatively that they think they can achieve or, relatedly, make popular.”

“The rap on most State of the Union addresses is that they are ‘laundry lists.’ This time the president, like his administration and party, was listless.”

A Conspiracy of Dunces

Rick Wilson: “The Republican Party’s head first dive into breathless conspiratorial fantasies in defense of Donald Trump is a brand-defining moment as the Party of Lincoln morphs into the Party of LaRouche. Listening as members of Congress, the Fox/talk-radio world and the constellation of batshit crazy people drawn to Esoteric Trumpism adopt increasingly baroque theories to protect The Donald isn’t just depressing, it’s tragic. A diseased slurry of fake news, post-Truth Trumpism and Russkie agitprop infects the Republican Party. It’s an Ebola of wild-eyed MK-ULTRA paranoiac raving, spreading to every organ of the Republican body politic. This loon-centric new world of crazy talk has dissolved the old ideological skeleton of the GOP and reduced it from the Conservative Party of Ideas to the Crackpot Party of Infowars.”

“Covering up the connections between Donald Trump, his campaign officials and family members with Russia, and this president’s efforts to obstruct justice and derail Mueller will come at a still-untallied cost to our nation, our institutions, and the dignity and reputation of the GOP. It’s going to get worse as Mueller closes in.”

Wynn Steps Down from RNC Post

RNC finance chairman Steve Wynn is stepping down from his post following sexual misconduct allegations, the Washington Post reports.

Axios: “The RNC was facing backlash for not taking immediate action after the Wall Street Journal noted dozens of allegations against Wynn for sexual harassment and assault. Criticism was heightened because Republicans had called for the DNC to return donations made by Harvey Weinstein after he was accused of sexual assault and harassment.”

Republicans Stick By Trump

Joe Scarborough: “We learned this week that President Trump in June ordered the firing of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, but few Republicans on Capitol Hill bothered to raise an eyebrow. In more settled times, this kind of presidential assault on an independent investigation would have stirred grave concerns throughout the halls of Congress. But Trump’s corrupted coalition has instead trotted out one twisted conspiracy theory after another, all designed to distract the president’s most fevered fans and concoct a case against Mueller’s investigation.”

“Wild tales of secret societies, Obama wiretaps and ‘deep-state’ conspiracies flow freely from the tongues of Trump apparatchiks. Those preposterous narratives are then spread across cable news networks and inside Capitol Hill cloakrooms.”

RNC Finance Chairman Faces Allegations of Misconduct

“Casino mogul Steve Wynn has no immediate plans to relinquish his role as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee in the wake of reports detailing decades of alleged sexual misconduct,” the Washington Post reports.

“A report by the Wall Street Journal published Friday included interviews with dozens of people who have worked at Wynn’s casinos or been told of his behavior, including allegations that he pressured some employees to perform sex acts.”

Why Republicans Love Dumb Presidents

Jonathan Chait: “Faced with the accusation that he is a half-wit, the president and his defenders have formed two rebuttals. The first is that the mere fact Trump won the presidency and has approved conservative policies proves his wisdom… The second defense holds that the questioning of Trump’s mental capacity is no more than liberal snobbery.”

“Both defenses have something in common. Rather than segregate questions about Trump’s brain away from the broader partisan debate, they dissolve the former into the latter. They believe that Trump’s being called dumb by the intellectual elite is intimately connected to his political identity. This belief is largely correct. As it has moved farther and farther right, the Republican Party has grown increasingly anti-intellectual. Trump’s base adores him, not despite his obvious mental limitations, but because of them.”

“Two caveats are in order. First, many intelligent people have conservative values, and rationally support the Republican Party. Second, while Trump’s lack of mental aptitude may be similar to that of previous Republican leaders in kind, it is very different in degree. That said, Trump’s flamboyant ignorance and disdain for intellectual standards are very much in keeping with modern conservative politics.”