Long ago, when Glenn Beck seemed important, somehow, he blurted out that Barack Obama had repeatedly shown “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”
That’s what people remember. Beck was arguing that Obama was the racist here – the man who was tearing the country apart. America had elected a man who hated white people. Expect a race war – and then Glenn Beck disappeared. CNN had dropped him. MSNBC had no use him, and even Fox News eventually cut him loose. He started his own “on line” news network, but that went nowhere. Glenn Beck disappeared in a cloud of conspiracy theories – his own – which were beyond odd. The friezes on the exterior of Rockefeller Center contained hidden socialist and communist messages, part of a plot by the Rockefeller family to end capitalism in America forever? The Rockefeller family hated capitalism? What?
No one missed Glenn Beck when he was gone – but he eventually took back what he had said about Barack Obama. He had decided that Obama was a good guy after all. Obama did try to unite us all. He liked the guy, but it was too late for that, and Beck is all-in for Trump now. He would have preferred Ted Cruz, but Trump will do – and no one really cares what Glenn Beck thinks. Hardly anyone knows who Glenn Beck is now.
But he had planted a seed. Donald Trump has torn the country apart. Every day there’s someone to despise – the blacks or the gays or the urban hipsters or the fancy-pants experts and the goofy scientists and all “politicians” in general – and Mexicans and Muslims too – and Hollywood – and the “coastal elites” and the Chinese, and the Canadians. And there are those uppity black football players, kneeling of all things, and those whining Black Lives Matter folks, and those tree-hugging environmentalists, ruining everything for American business, and those high school kids who worry about getting shot at school, kids who should be carrying guns themselves – or their teachers should. And there’s the FBI and the Justice Department and the CIA – the Deep State – and Robert Mueller too. Know the enemy. They’re everywhere. They say they’re American but they’re not. It’s us against them.
This is Glenn Beck talk, with the implicit idea that those who want strong borders are not racists. They just want strong borders, and those uppity black football players should stand for the national anthem – a matter of patriotism that has nothing to do with race at all. And those kids should have been torn from their parents at the border, never to see their parents again. The law is the law. That has nothing to do with race either. This is Glenn Beck talk too. People are tired of being called racists when they’re not. That makes them angry. The other folks are the real racists. Glenn Beck had made that argument earlier. People still make that argument.
That argument may be settled in the midterm elections. It may already be settled. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent sees things moving away from the Trump side of things:
The anti-Trump backlash is about to collide violently with the GOP’s structural, counter-majoritarian advantages in this election – and the winner of the clash will decide whether President Trump will be subjected to genuine oversight or will effectively be given even freer rein to unleash more corruption and more authoritarianism, while expanding his ethno-nationalist and plutocratic agenda.
Sargent cites three new polls that hint at who wins here:
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that Democrats have opened up a 14-point lead in the battle for the House, 52-38. Voters want Congress to be more of a check on Trump by 58 percent to 27 percent.
A new CNN poll finds that Americans approve of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation by 50-38, a new high in CNN polling. By 61-33, Americans say it is examining a “serious matter that should be fully investigated,” as opposed to the “witch hunt” that Trump rage-tweeted about again this morning.
A new NPR-Marist poll finds that Democrats lead by 12 points in the battle for the House, 50-38. Trump’s approval is at 39-52, making this the fifth recent poll to put Trump below 40 percent.
Sargent sees this:
Trump has provoked a backlash among minorities, young people and college-educated and suburban whites, especially women – and even seemingly among independents – that has powered Democratic victories in unlikely places.
This is not Glenn Beck’s world:
The Quinnipiac poll finds Democrats leading in the generic ballot matchup by 20 points among women, by 15 points among independents, by nine points among college-educated whites (sometimes a Republican leaning group) and by enormous margins among young people, blacks and Hispanics.
In the Quinnipiac poll, 62 percent of women want Congress to be a check on Trump, 60 percent of independents want this, and 57 percent of college-educated whites want this.
The CNN poll finds that women approve of the Mueller investigation by 10 points, that independents approve of it by 14 points and that college-educated whites approve of it by 23 points.
The CNN poll also finds that women think the probe is a serious matter by 67-26, independents think this by 63-29, and college-educated whites think this by 66-31.
The Marist poll finds Democrats leading in the generic ballot match-up by 57-29 among women, by 43-36 among independents, and by 57-36 among college educated whites.
It seems that Trump is the one who is tearing the country apart and more and more Americans want to stop that. This is what Sargent sees:
For over a year now, Trump has waged a full-scale assault on the mechanisms of accountability arrayed around him. He has savaged the Mueller probe and law enforcement as riddled with corruption and as orchestrating an illegitimate Deep State conspiracy against his presidency. He has attacked the news media as the “enemy of the people,” by which he means Trump and Republican voters, characterizing the free press as part of that conspiracy against his presidency and his supporters.
But this new polling confirms that these things are not working with the broader electorate. There is broad and growing support for the Mueller investigation. And the Quinnipiac poll shows Americans trust the news media more than Trump to tell them the truth by 54-30, and 69 percent say the media constitutes an important part of democracy. Support for our institutions appears to be holding.
So now it’s time to settle all this:
Republicans have made the stakes in this election perfectly plain. If Republicans retain control of Congress, it means zero effort to force transparency around Trump’s finances to get a real handle on his self-dealing, and a free hand to keep harassing the Mueller investigation. Those things would surely embolden Trump’s corruption and make it more likely that he’d move more aggressively to constrain the Mueller probe himself. It would also mean little to no oversight of Trump’s various governing fiascoes going forward, and an emboldened GOP drive to repeal Obamacare and possibly to target Social Security and Medicare as well.
And on the other side:
If Democrats win one or both chambers, it means an end to those Mueller harassment efforts and an effort at real transparency on Trump’s self-dealing and finances, including their possible intersection with the Russia investigation. It could mean an attempt at genuine oversight on things such as Trump’s immigration policies and his sabotage of Obamacare, both of whose rationales are steeped in bad faith and are crying out for scrutiny. It would supply leverage to mitigate some of the damage being done by Trump’s ethno-nationalist agenda and to block any further GOP efforts to gut the safety net to fund more tax cuts for the rich.
The gamble that Trump and Republicans are making is that the promise to protect Trump from oversight and accountability will energize Republican voters, even as the full embrace of Trump’s ethno-nationalism does the same…
But don’t call Trump’s ethno-nationalism racism. That would be unfair.
No, that’s what it is. That’s the problem that the Washington Post explores here:
Democrat Antonio Delgado is a Rhodes Scholar and attorney with a Harvard Law degree running in one of the country’s most hotly contested congressional races.
But Republicans want to instill a different image in the minds of voters in New York’s 19th Congressional District. Their latest ad, released Wednesday, features grainy clips of Delgado, who is African American and made a 2007 rap album. His censored explicit lyrics dominate the ad, along with the album cover, which shows a glaring Delgado in a hoodie.
This had to happen:
Raw tensions over race, gender and personal identity are shaping battleground contests from Upstate New York to the Deep South, reflecting the marked schism in the country during the Trump era and the increasingly stark demographic divide between the two political parties…
Republicans are aggressively trying to cast Democratic candidates as scary, threatening figures with unfamiliar values. A super PAC linked to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has aired an ad in Ohio tenuously connecting a candidate of Tibetan and Indian descent to Libyan interests and asking if he is “selling out Americans.” In Kentucky, a GOP incumbent released an ad showing his female Democratic opponent declaring that she is a feminist.
It’s getting ugly out there:
Democrats are increasingly calling out the GOP, saying these are sexist, racist attacks that remind them of the divisive tactics that Donald Trump used as a candidate and has reprised as president.
Even some Republicans are troubled by the tone.
“The difference between the past and the present is that you have a political actor like the president who makes it okay, who gives license to it, said Michael Steele, who was the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“If you don’t speak to that and call it out, it will germinate, it will become an infection and will create the kind of disease in our politics, which I think to some degree, we are already seeing.”
Michael Steele is right, it’s too late:
Republicans behind the attacks are making no apologies. They argue that they are informing voters about their rivals.
That is, none of any of it is racist, but that’s a matter of opinion:
Race has also recently roiled the Florida gubernatorial contest. Democrat Andrew Gillum, the state’s first black major-party nominee for governor, said in an interview that he expected to face racially charged attacks – just not on Day One.
The morning after the primary, GOP nominee Ron DeSantis, who is white, used a phrase many African Americans have found offensive, suggesting on Fox News that electing Gillum and his liberal policies would “monkey this up” at a time when Florida is on the right track under conservative control.
Gillum spoke to his wife that evening to brace her for how ugly the contest might get. “Hold on, because God knows, you know, what depths this may go to,” he recalled saying.
DeSantis’s campaign spokesman, Stephen Lawson, said it was “absurd” to characterize the remark as anything other than a policy comment.
The word “monkey” is values-neutral, right? That too is a matter of opinion, but the country may be moving beyond that kind of pedantic and petty nonsense. There is who is running this time around:
Republicans have 52 women, which is in line with recent elections. But the GOP’s share of all female candidates – 22 percent – is the lowest it has been in at least 40 years. Democrats have also set a record of 15 female nominees for the Senate and 12 in gubernatorial races. Republicans have fewer than half in each case.
It seems that Trump divided the nation and lost:
“I think this administration and the president and his divisive policies are a great motivator,” said Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), recruitment vice chair for the House Democratic campaign arm. “I think that many of the women candidates we have running started with the Women’s March and ended up marching to their local town halls to register as candidates.”
In Kentucky, Democratic nominee Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, would be the first woman to represent the Lexington-based 6th Congressional District if she unseats Republican Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr. She is contending with a barrage of negative ads, including one from Barr that shows her saying, “Hell yeah, I’m a feminist.”
And it gets worse for the Republicans:
At his annual 4th of July Picnic near Austin earlier this summer, Willie Nelson welcomed Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke onstage to join him on guitar for set-closing renditions of “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” There’s a good chance that the country icon and galvanizing Democratic politician will re-create the moment later this month when Nelson headlines a concert and rally for O’Rourke in Austin.
While Nelson has performed for politicians in the past – most famously for President Jimmy Carter on the South Lawn of the White House on September 13th, 1980 — the O’Rourke rally will mark his first-ever public performance on behalf of a political candidate…
“My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson said in a statement. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
This means there will be a Trump tweet, or two or three, about how everybody hates failed No-Talent Willie Nelson. The man can’t sing. No one buys his records. No one ever did. Everyone knows that Willie Nelson is despicable – and so on and so forth. Expect that. How can Trump resist? Willie Nelson is the enemy of everything that is America.
Trump may be inviting that backlash to grow. That’s just too bad. There’s Amy McGrath – “Hell yeah, I’m a feminist.”
No one is apologizing anymore, and there’s Beto O’Rourke:
Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat from El Paso, Texas, who is waging a credible challenge to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for his seat this November, defended NFL players’ right to protest in a video that has gone viral since it was posted on Tuesday.
O’Rourke was asked at a campaign town hall if he thought NFL players’ kneeling during the national anthem was disrespectful. The person asking the question said he found it “incredibly frustrating” that people supported such protests.
“My short answer is: No, I don’t think it’s disrespectful,” O’Rourke responded, which drew applause from the audience.
Willie Nelson was right. That’s what is special about Texas, that energy and integrity that seems to be completely genuine, that also has no patience for petty nonsense:
“Reasonable people can disagree on this issue. Let’s begin there. And it makes them no less American to come down on a different conclusion on this issue, right?” he added.
O’Rourke then connected the issue to the nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement spurred by the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing, which killed four young black girls, and the Freedom Riders who were terrorized while challenging segregation laws, among other events.
“Peaceful, nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability, and without justice,” O’Rourke said. “And this problem — as grave as it is — is not going to fix itself, and they’re frustrated, frankly, with people like me and those in positions of public trust and power, who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country.”
He added: “And so nonviolently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, anytime, anywhere, in any place.”
The video of that, from late August, went viral, and there was this:
O’Rourke was heavily criticized by conservatives, and Ted Cruz’s campaign is already attempting to use the popularity of O’Rourke’s comments against him. “O’Rourke’s support for kneeling before the American flag has endeared him to yet more Hollywood celebrities,” the Cruz campaign wrote in a press release unveiling a new ad.
“Liberal talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted that she wants to meet him. Singer John Legend retweeted the video, adding ‘preach.’ Actor Kevin Bacon is also a big fan now. California is all-in for O’Rourke. Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr thanked the El Paso congressman for “giving us a glimpse of our future.”
Ellen DeGeneres is an enemy of the people. So is John Legend. So is Kevin Bacon. So is Steve Kerr. Everyone hates all these people, right? Cruz hoped so, but he was just getting started:
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told supporters at a rally on Saturday that Democrats wanted to make Texas like California and listed off a few things as stereotypical staples of the blue state.
“We are seeing tens of millions of dollars flooding into the state of Texas from liberals all over the country who desperately want to turn the state of Texas blue,” Cruz said. “They want us to be just like California, right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair.”
Cruz added that his wife, Heidi Cruz, was “a California vegetarian.”
“She’s wonderful, but I brought her to the great state of Texas,” Cruz said.
And now she eats meat? Cruz is in trouble:
A New York Times report over the weekend based on audio obtained by the Times of Mick Mulvaney, a top Trump administration official, showed the major Republican alluding to concerns about Cruz’s strength in his home state. Mulvaney said it was “a very real possibility” the GOP would lose Cruz’s seat, according to the newspaper.
“I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a possibility,” Mulvaney is quoted as saying. “How likable is a candidate? That still counts.”
That still counts because a candidate who gets angry at petty nonsense – tofu and dyed hair – is a small petty man. Beto O’Rourke, now in a dead heat with Cruz, will step out of his way and Cruz can be as petty as Cruz chooses to be, and there’s this:
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday morning that she was at the event with Mulvaney. She predicted Republicans would not lose the seat and praised Cruz as an “excellent representative for Texas.”
“I think he’s very likable,” she added of Cruz.
She’s wrong. Everyone has had a glimpse of the future. Ted Cruz isn’t part of it, and Glenn Beck was never part of it. Petty nonsense isn’t part of it. Donald Trump has torn the country apart. That can be fixed. That will be fixed, soon.