Patterico's Pontifications

3/31/2023

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:47 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

While Trump’s lawyer insists that “the rule of law died yesterday” with the indictment announcement, we know otherwise. What we don’t know is whether this indictment will help or hurt Trump’s bid for the presidency. Or perhaps it won’t have any impact whatsoever. Here are three scenarios discussing possible impacts:

Scenario 1: It will hurt Trump
Scandals are bad for political candidates. According to our research, scandal-plagued incumbents performed an average of 9 percentage points worse than expected in general elections between 1998 and 2016…If Trump is also indicted in one or more of those cases, it’s harder to see them shrugging this indictment off as a Democrat-led “witch hunt.” Republicans don’t even have to stop liking Trump or believing that he’s innocent; they just need to come to the conclusion that he has too much baggage to be their standard bearer in 2024. …If Trump is also indicted in one or more of those cases, it’s harder to see them shrugging this indictment off as a Democrat-led “witch hunt.” Republicans don’t even have to stop liking Trump or believing that he’s innocent; they just need to come to the conclusion that he has too much baggage to be their standard bearer in 2024.

Scenario 2: It will help Trump
Could being charged with a crime help Trump’s campaign? It’s hard to come up with an argument that it could buoy him in a general election, but it’s a distinct possibility in the primary. Trump could experience a polling boost similar to a rally-around-the-flag effect that presidents sometimes experience when the nation comes under threat — except this time, Trump himself is under threat. Most Republicans believe Trump is being unfairly persecuted…Another reason why politicians often experience rally-around-the-flag effects in times of crisis: their political opponents go quiet and stop criticizing them. That looks like it’s already happening with Trump. Rather than attacking him for being an accused criminal, Trump’s Republican opponents (both declared and potential) are coming to his defense. “Arresting a presidential candidate on a manufactured basis should not happen in America,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the indictment “is more about revenge than it is about justice.” Sen. Tim Scott called it a “travesty.” Former Vice President Mike Pence called it an “outrage.” DeSantis called it “un-American.”

Scenario 3: It won’t matter
Even if they don’t actively rally to his defense, very few Republicans think the allegations are that serious. According to a Marist College/NPR/PBS NewsHour poll conducted March 20-23, 45 percent of Republicans think Trump has done nothing wrong, and another 43 percent think he did something unethical but not illegal. And according to Quinnipiac, 93 percent of Republicans thought the Manhattan district attorney’s case was mainly motivated by politics, while only 5 percent thought it was mainly motivated by the law…In addition, Trump’s alleged wrongdoing is also already baked into public opinion about him.

My guess is that this indictment will galvanize not just Trump voters, but also those on the fence (Trump v. DeSantis) because they see this as unfair persecution and unfair prosecution of the former president. No one has mastered the image of the quintessential victim like Trump, and no one plays the victim card as well as he does. And in the symbiotic relationship, no other group infantilizes him like his supporters. So when I see things like this, the more convinced I am that this indictment will help Trump in the primaries:

President Trump embodies the American people—our psyche from id to super-ego—as does no other figure; his soul is totally bonded with our core values and emotions, and he is our total and indisputable champion. This tremendous connection threatens the established order.

And because of Trump’s less-than-gracious reaction to the news of the indictment, Bragg’s office is requesting the House GOP to denounce his rhetoric:

“These Thugs and Radical Left Monsters have just INDICATED [sic] the 45th President of the United States of America, and the leading Republican Candidate” for president.

“THIS IS AN ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE. IT IS LIKEWAISE A CONTINUING ATTACK ON OUR ONCE FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS…THE USA IS NOW A THIRD-WORLD NATION, A NATION IN SERIOUS DECLINE. SO SAD!”

Second news item

After another horrific school shooting that left six dead, including three children, I wish we could all agree on at least this, because if we can’t, I don’t see things changing:

The answer to the “why” of these atrocities is frustratingly simple: As long as people with hate in their hearts have easy access to powerful and deadly weapons, the massacres will continue.

We can work to reduce the hate on the edges. Invest in mental health programs. Try to minimize the exacerbating traumas. Beef up our school safety precautions. Be more generous to one another.

But we will never eradicate it. We are human; we are fallen; we ate from the forbidden tree.

It’s always jarring to see just how easily the jump is made from indescribable horror to anxiousness as we wait to hear the shooter’s identity – as in which tribe they belong. If one is fairly online, you know that with every school shooting and mass shooting outside of schools, it is the $64 question and it can’t be answered quickly enough. After all, politicians and pundits, media outlets, and fringe dwellers need to know if the shooter was one of their own. Obviously, the hoped-for answer is that they belong to another tribe, which allows the arrows to be lobbed while scoring points for one’s own side. And this case was no different. Well, except that it turned out to be a bit more complicated than if the attacker was an anti-Semite, a white supremacist, a damaged vet, a radicalized extremist, or a paranoid schizophrenic…

Meanwhile in Nashville:

Lawmakers will turn their attention to action next week. [Gov. Bill] Lee is expected to release his amended budget proposal, which some are speculating could include additional funding for private school security grants.

Democrats offered several proposals, including a repeal of permitless carry, limit on cash transaction for firearms and the creation of red flag laws.

McNally also mentioned to reporters he was open to discussing red flag laws, which prevent someone who displays signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a gun.

Third news item

Shameful behavior by Ausrtrian politicians as 20 walk out during Zelensky speech:

The politicians from the Freedom Party (FPÖ) argued Mr Zelensky’s speech violated Austria’s neutrality…Austria has previously said it cannot help Ukraine’s defence militarily, but does support Kyiv politically.

In a video address, Mr Zelensky thanked Austria for its humanitarian assistance and help clearing land mines. He was speaking on the 400th day of Russian invasion.

He also invited MPs to travel to Ukraine for themselves and see the destruction caused.

The president of Austria’s lower house of parliament, Wolfgang Sobotka, pledged more financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and said the country deserved Austria’s solidarity.

But as Mr Zelensky spoke, a group of politicians walked out and left placards on their desk with the party logo that read “space for neutrality” and “space for peace”.

Ah, so much for “neutrality”:

The Freedom Party has prompted anger in the past for its pro-Russian stance. In 2018, when the FPÖ’s Karin Kneissl was foreign minister, she was criticised for dancing with President Vladimir Putin at her wedding.

Fourth news item

Russia detains American reporter, Evan Gershkovich, who works for The Wall Street Journal:

…Russia’s Federal Security Service says the 31-year-old American reporter for The Wall Street Journal has been arrested on charges of espionage. The FSB, the country’s top security agency and successor to the KGB, said Gershkovich was collecting information on an enterprise of the military-industrial complex.

The Journal denied the allegations and demanded his release.

Just days before being detained, a story by Gershkovich was published which looked at the increasingly dismal state of Russia’s economy.

At this point, while President Biden has demanded the release of Gershkovich, there is currently no plan to expel Russian diplomats:

Mr. Biden said the U.S. didn’t plan any expulsion of Russian diplomats. “That’s not the plan right now,” he said from the South Lawn of the White House before departing for Andrews Air Force Base. Past expulsions have prompted tit-for-tat retaliation from Moscow, leaving both the U.S. Embassy in Russia and Russia’s embassy in Washington with skeleton staff.

Fifth news item

And in another moment of insanity involving the United Nations:

In Ukraine, Moscow is pursuing an unprovoked war of aggression. In The Hague, Vladimir Putin is facing an arrest warrant for war crimes. But at the UN, Russia is about to take charge of a powerful international body, the security council.

From Saturday, it will be Russia’s turn to take up the monthly presidency of the 15-member council, in line with a rotation that has been unaffected by the Ukraine war.

The last time Russia held the gavel was in February last year, when Putin declared his “special military operation” in the middle of a council session on Ukraine. Fourteen months on, tens of thousands of people have been killed, many of them civilians, cities have been ruined and Putin has been indicted by the international criminal court for the mass abduction of Ukrainian children.

“As of 1 April, they’re taking the level of absurdity to a new level,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian permanent representative. “The security council as it is designed is immobilised and incapable to address the issues of their primary responsibility, that is prevention of conflicts and then dealing with conflicts.”

Sixth news item

Some good news for Finland:

Finland received the green light to join NATO when Turkey ratified the Nordic country’s membership late Thursday, becoming the last country in the 30-member Western military alliance to sign off…The decision by the Turkish parliament followed Hungary’s ratification of Finland’s bid earlier in the week.

The addition of Finland, which shares a 1,340 kilometer (832 miles) border with Russia, will more than double the size of NATO’s border with Russia.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s application is still being held up by Turkey and Hungary.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana


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