‘American Carnage’ Open Thread: GOP Lifer Shocked, Shocked to Discover…

Politico Magazine’s chief political correspondent Tim Alberta finds himself trapped in the nightmare party at the end of Animal Farm, where the faces of men and pigs have become indistinguishable. It’s a heavy lift, but eventually he finds a satisfactory villain to blame for the totally inexplicable triumph of Donald Trump over the Republican party:

As George W. Bush left office with record-low approval ratings and Barack Obama led a Democratic takeover of Washington, Republicans faced a moment of reckoning: They had no vision, no generation of new leaders, and no energy in the party’s base. Yet Obama’s forceful pursuit of his progressive agenda, coupled with the nation’s rapidly changing societal and demographic identity, lit a fire under the right, returning Republicans to power and inviting a bloody struggle for the party’s identity in the post-Bush era. The factions that emerged—one led by absolutists like Jim Jordan and Ted Cruz, the other led by pragmatists like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell—engaged in a series of devastating internecine clashes and attempted coups for control. With the GOP’s internal fissures rendering it legislatively impotent, and that impotence fueling a growing resentment toward the political class and its institutions, the stage was set for an outsider to crash the party. When Trump descended a gilded escalator to announce his run in the summer of 2015, the candidate had met the moment…

And you thought we Democrats had an exaggerated opinion of Number 44. Perhaps once the current Squatter-in-Chief has been replaced by a real (Democratic) President, we’ll be better able to appreciate a scrupulously sourced and painstakingly footnoted version of the current Revanchist Rebellion. It’s pretty clear his Repub comrades don’t intend Mike Pence to inherit the Oval Office, even if his lord and master is removed before 2020 by medical crisis or political impeachment.

From the NYTimes, “American Carnage’ Shows How War Between Republicans Led to Their Peace With Trump”:

Alberta, a political correspondent for the conservative magazine National Review before moving to Politico, brings more than a decade of reporting and a real understanding of the conservative movement to “American Carnage.” He reminds readers of the 2000 presidential election, when George W. Bush campaigned with the promise of “compassionate conservatism,” reflecting an attempt by the Republican Party to present itself as “warm, aspirational, inclusive,” pursuing minority outreach and immigration reform. Republican pollsters had taken a look at the changing demographics of the country, and the numbers spelled doom. The Republican Party simply couldn’t survive by catering primarily to white people.

Or could it? This question cuts to the heart of what the party is becoming under Trump, who was the preferred candidate of white nationalists. Gone for the most part is the big-tent strategy of appealing to moderates and expanding outreach; if the 2018 midterms were any indication, the Republican electoral plan currently consists mainly of riling up the base, gerrymandering and appointing the judges who will decide the gerrymandering cases…

… As “American Carnage” makes abundantly clear, Trump tapped into and exploited a bigotry that had already been seething, bubbling up to the surface during the Obama administration. Trump might have been a noisy proponent of birtherism, but he was also, Alberta explains, a “latecomer” to the movement. The Republican adviser Karl Rove says he “knew people, smart people, who were into it.”

Rove is one of the more than 300 people Alberta interviewed for this book, which locates Trump’s ascendancy amid a long-brewing civil war in the Republican Party. The narrative begins with the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, when Sarah Palin — a Trumpian politician before Trump became a politician — was transformed into a national figure by the beloved establishment senator John McCain. Rove calls Palin “vacuous” and an “early warning bell”: “We went from wanting people who were experienced and qualified to wanting people who would throw bombs and blow things up.”

This may sound rich coming from someone who had no problem with actual bomb-throwing in the Iraq War, but Rove’s comment reflected a growing awareness among elite Republicans that their grip on the party had been pried loose. What it doesn’t do is acknowledge that those who were “experienced and qualified” enough to serve in a Bush administration remembered for expensive wars and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression might have played a part in their own political demise…

“American Carnage” tells the degrading story of the ultimate devil’s bargain: As chaotic as the current administration is, and as much as the president torpedoes conservative shibboleths like respect for the F.B.I. and the sanctity of families, Republicans have scored some goodies they have long craved — the gutting of environmental regulations, a raft of judicial appointments and an enormous tax cut.

The question is how sustainable any of this is…






24 replies
  1. 1
    ruemara says:

    His conclusion is it’s the black guy’s fault. You’re going to get 18 more years of fascism. This country is too stupid to do better.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    The ninth circuit court just blocked funds to planned parenthood. Nothing else matters.

  3. 3
    TenguPhule says:

    @ruemara:

    You’re going to get 18 more years of fascism.

    I’d like to think that most of those years will not be peaceful for the Fascists.

  4. 4
    Xavier Onassis says:

    This is overthinking. Republicans are perfectly happy with a gridlocked government because they don’t believe government should do anything but protect private property rights.

  5. 5
    p.a. says:

    @JPL: can’t wait for susan sarandon to spin this as positive…

  6. 6

    Burn every single Gaia-damned one of these two-bit ratfucking soulless criminals to the Gaia-damned core as a warning to everyone that walks and breathes.

    Once we finally learn that it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault we’ll stop putting them in charge of any Gaia-damned fucking thing.

  7. 7
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    Tim Alberta, whoever the fuck he is, wouldn’t know a “progressive agenda” if it crept up behind him & kicked him in the arse so hard he’d be brushing his teeth with shoe polish in the morning.

  8. 8
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Yawn, the Republicans have been falling in line since Lincoln. The whole party has been a contradiction since the get go.

    And

    absolutists like Jim Jordan and Ted Cruz, the other led by pragmatists like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell—

    Seriously, is this article a joke?

  9. 9
    JDM says:

    That Obama guy. The power he wielded. All these things the Bush administration did – Fast and Furious, and the Acosta Epstein deal – it turns out they were all actually Obama. Man, wish he’d been a Democrat; he coulda been president.

  10. 10
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    “Pence hunkered down and prayed with his wife, Karen, who furiously warned him that she would no longer appear in public if Pence remained Trump’s running mate.” Then she got over it, apparently.

    I know she’s a minor player in all this, but Mother Pence does make me laugh. She got over all her godly, righteous scruples when she saw the big house she’d be living in, and found out she was gonna get to live all fancy and such

  11. 11
    ruemara says:

    @TenguPhule: lol, America is full of sheep.

    @BruceFromOhio: We should form a band because that’s my song.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    That, or Mikey showed her that all of her expensive dresses and shoes had been paid for in rubles, and they executed Ethel Rosenberg even though she probably didn’t know much about the spying.

  13. 13
    Mnemosyne says:

    Racists decide they would rather destroy the country than share it with non-white people. News at 11.

  14. 14
    Taobhan says:

    The Republican Party simply couldn’t survive by catering primarily to white people. Or could it?

    Well, the GOP is giving it all it has to make it work. And it takes a lot of work to gerry all those manders and otherwise suppress the votes of all those who would choose against you. MAGA is obviously meant to be Make America White Again. It worked in 2016 and they’ve shown since then they are going full-bore to make it work again. Because if it doesn’t work, the Republican Party is dead in the water. But if it does work in 2020, then we may be kissing our democratic representative form of government goodbye. The norms Trump and the Republicans have busted may never be norms again.

  15. 15
    hilts says:

    Tim Alberta is another conservative tool trying to pass himself off as a neutral journalist. The same holds true for Eliana Johnson. They’re both alums of that steaming pile of crap the National Review.

  16. 16
    oatler. says:

    The planned obsolescence of the human race has reached its sell-by date. What else is left to suicidally destroy? Fishing rights?

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    @hilts:

    Interestingly, he sounds like he’s desperately clinging to his beliefs as his world crumbles around him. If he had to admit that the reason conservatives hated Obama was racism, and that they’re doing everything they can to create a white supremacist country, he would be in freefall.

  18. 18
    Dan B says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: “Mother” may have seen the light when she realized the power to make the government more Godly. She’s getting it mow with the “Natural Law” commission. The judiciary is moving the same direction. And the legislature is impotent.

    So the Pence and Dominionists get their promised “purity” gift. The Birther / White Nationalists get their racism gift. The financiers get their free money gift. Everybody gets a gift, if you’re a straight white right winger, preferably male-headship advocate.

    The question is when will all the groups who suffer from this set aside our differences?

  19. 19
    gene108 says:

    I don’t remember a Republican Civil War after 2008. A few guys piped up about their past failings as stewards of this country, and Rush Limbaugh, et. al. told them to shut the fuck up, if you know what’s good for you, and fall in line.

    We’re getting the crazy train revved up and y’all are getting board.

    A true civil war in a political party doesn’t result in such lockstep voting, mouthing the same talking points, etc.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    Yet Obama’s forceful pursuit of his progressive agenda, coupled with the nation’s rapidly changing societal and demographic identity, lit a fire under the right, returning Republicans to power and inviting a bloody struggle for the party’s identity in the post-Bush era.

    It was an overcast morning today. I blame Obama.

    Buncha dopes

  21. 21
    lamh36 says:

    Obama sends letter to prisoner he freed, who made the dean’s list: ‘I am so proud of you’ https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2019/07/11/barack-obama-prison-reform-inmate-felon-clemency-ban-box/1707154001/ via @usatoday

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The Republican adviser Karl Rove says he “knew people, smart people, who were into it.”

    He must be using a different definition of smart from most people.

  23. 23
    Shalimar says:

    I was unaware Aphra Behn was alive again.

  24. 24
    Redshift says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    He must be using a different definition of smart from most people.

    He’s a movement conservative. When he says “smart,” he means “rich.”

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