Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: A look back, a look ahead

POLITICO Playbook:

The 3 unpredictable factors shaping 2024

“Abortion-rights activists rarely use the term ‘pro-choice’ anymore, preferring to talk about people’s ‘freedom to decide.’ In September, the abortion-rights group Naral Pro-Choice America, founded in 1969, changed its name to Reproductive Freedom for All. Grounded in research that predates the Dobbs ruling, these new buzzwords have helped the abortion-rights side resonate across partisan lines. Republicans have noticed the resonance with their liberty-loving voters. ‘They stole freedom!’ one antiabortion Republican consultant recently remarked.”

The other two, the economy and Trump’s pilgrimage through the courts, are also likely to help Biden.

Simon Rosenberg/MSNBC:

Biden’s 2024 chances are much stronger than people realize

Two things have happened to Trump since 2020 that are going to make it very hard for him to win in 2024.

Second, the strength of the president’s record is only matched by the strength of his party. I don’t think it is widely understood how strong the Democratic Party is right now. The party has won more votes in seven of the past eight presidential elections, something no party has done in modern American history. Over the last four presidential elections, Democrats have averaged 51% of the popular vote, their best showing over four national elections since the 1930s.

EJ Dionne, Jr/Washington Post:

Why 2024’s vibes are so perplexing: ‘Everybody thinks they’re losing’

If you wonder why there is so much political discontent, look no further than a year-end YouGov survey, which found that both liberals and conservatives believe the country is moving the wrong way — meaning away from their own views. Forty-four percent of liberals said U.S. politics had moved further to the right over the past decade; only 16 percent said things had moved leftward. Among conservatives, 55 percent said politics had moved to the left, while only 15 percent saw a move rightward. (Moderates, appropriately, were split about evenly.)

Democratic pollster Guy Molyneux captured the mood. “Everybody thinks they’re losing,” he told me.


For those who thought that Nikki Haley’s disastrous mistake about slavery and the Civil War would fade, instead it’s sparked a broad discussion of the Civil War, race, history in general, and the Lost Cause in particular (examples below).

Joshua Zeitz/POLITICO Magazine:

Why Was It So Hard for Nikki Haley to Say ‘Slavery’? History Has the Answer
The presidential candidate’s recent (and swiftly qualified) comments about the Civil War helped spread a myth that has warped American history for over a century.

With red states doing battle with American history, seeking to erase the legacy of violence and inequality that counterbalance the great good also inherent in our national story, it’s worth revisiting the rise of the Lost Cause, not just to remember how damaging it was, but to confront just how damaging it still is.

Washington Post:

Led by Trump, GOP candidates take polarizing stances on race and history

The party’s three leading candidates are speaking about history and race in polarizing and provocative ways that sometimes diverge from or distort the facts, some political strategists, experts and civil rights leaders said

The Republican Party’s three leading presidential candidates are speaking about history and race in polarizing and provocative ways that sometimes diverge from or distort the facts, some political strategists, experts and civil rights leaders said. Their comments have stoked outrage among many Americans and risk alienating wide swaths of voters, including the independent and moderate voters whom Haley has been courting, according to strategists in both parties.

But their rhetoric is also appealing to many Americans who lean conservative, interviews with voters in Iowa and New Hampshire show, including some who reject the accusations that the statements are racially insensitive or worse. Many in the GOP are resentful of liberal leaders who they see as constantly pointing out or forcing the country to apologize for past atrocities, and some are angry about demographic and cultural shifts in America driven in part by immigration.

“It’s part of this time warp that the Republican Party is in,” said Stuart Stevens, a former presidential campaign strategist for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. 


Steve Inskeep/New York Times:

What Nikki Haley Didn’t Say

A few days ago, a caller on C-SPAN identified as “William in Lansford, Pa.,” asserted this to me: “The Civil War wasn’t about slavery. It was about the states fighting with one another about money.”

It was far from the first time I’ve heard such claims. It’s not hard to see why a candidate might avoid engaging too deeply with voters on this topic.

But the rest of us can arm ourselves with a few base-line facts. Far more than most historical events, the Civil War is debated among ordinary people as much as among historians. (Lincoln called it “a people’s war,” and it’s now a people’s history. I recently attended the annual Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg, Pa., where scholars shared the room with hundreds of superfans.) If we are to hold on to our history, we can prepare ourselves to respond calmly and with facts when someone makes a doubtful claim. Evidence shows what the war was about. It also shows why some people think it wasn’t about slavery — and why it matters a century and a half later.

The evidence is straightforward. Southern states rejected Lincoln’s 1860 election as a president from the antislavery Republican Party. South Carolina was the first of 11 states that tried to leave the Union, and Confederates fired the first shot of the Civil War there at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.


And on a—possibly—lighter note:

Jeff Tiedrich/”everyone is entitled to my own opinion” on Substack:

this year in stupid: 2023 — part 1

a three-part look back at the dumbest shit that happened

as another stupid year comes to a close in America, let’s remember some of the lowlights.

long story short: border agents found a bag at the border. they opened the bag. it was full of dirt. end of story, right?


Marjorie Taylor Greene, synapes struggling mightily to connect with one another, dove head-first into the situation and refused to take “it’s a fucking bag of dirt, Marge” for an answer.

Congresswoman Sporkfoot remains stubbornly convinced that the bag of dirt is actually an “explosive device” left by “the cartels,” and so she spent the day arguing with the chief of the border patrol. it was a story so stupid that even Fox News had to debunk it.

Jeff Tiedrich/”everyone is entitled to my own opinion” on Substack:

this year in stupid: 2023 — part 2

a three-part look back at the dumbest shit that happened

but you have to read the article to fully grasp the insanity of it:

… an innocent-enough inquiry that enraged former gossip columnist Doug Dechert, the—reportedly drunk—host of the whole event.

… but Dechert was relentless, continuing to rant about the “scam” of climate change while Haden-Guest disparaged him with insults, calling him “fucking insane” and “insignificant.” That’s when Dechert brought out his secret weapon: a booming fart that he released while shouting, “I’m farting!”

as any 5-year-old boy will you, there’s no point in breaking wind if you’re not going to loudly announce it while it’s happening.

observers agree that this was the most strategic use of a fart since the time Rudy Giuliani covid-gassed Jenna Ellis.


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