Good Friday Morning, and welcome back to this newsletter! Thank you for joining me for another year of writing, contemplating, and political chicanery. I was on a conference call earlier this week joking that 2022 had just started, and I already needed therapy after watching Tennessee vs. Purdue in the Music City Bowl. That game was a hard way to go with a rooting interest. But better luck next year, I suppose. I’ve got the Titans and Predators to keep me company for the time being.
This week, I’m going to jump into looking back at January 6, what I originally wrote, and how some of those thoughts have changed (or not) over time. And then pivot from that into a look at what significant events await 2022 – Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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Biden’s gamble on ‘peak’ inflation is a hope, not an educated analysis – Conservative Institute
Democrats lose their minds over Manchin – Conservative Institute
Lessons from White Christmas, or learning to remember – Conservative Institute
Biden is the reason there’s no federal answer to the pandemic – Conservative Institute
2022: January 6th gets remembered and the real events that will shape the year.
It’s one of those things I knew was coming but still wanted to ignore because of the predictable spectacle it would become. Once the calendar ticks over to a new year, we get greeted by the political phenomenon that is January 6. A year later, and still, no one has learned anything. I decided to go back and see what I wrote in the immediate aftermath. These two sections stuck out the day after:
The conclusion is pretty easy with the facts stated above: what happened at the Capitol was wrong. It’s so wrong that the question about Trump’s involvement shifts from it just being harmful to what should we do about his behavior and involvement? For some Republican White House staffers, the answer is to resign. Among those resignations is Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell’s wife, and Betsy DeVoss, both cabinet-level positions.
Resignations did little to change anything — which was apparent at the time. That’s when I weighed the odds of a second impeachment over January 6:
What Trump did is impeachable. That’s not the question, nor is it a high bar to clear. The problem is: Would impeaching Trump restore public trust in the executive branch or American political system? I don’t have an answer to that. Trump only has two weeks left in his term, and he’s going to leave office more disgraced than any President since Nixon. The last 48-72 hours have completely nuked his reputation and political capital.
Is it better to let him ride out the rest of the term? Or should Congress reassert itself and drive home the principle that undermining the country’s election has consequences? I’m naturally inclined towards setting examples in these situations. Democrats were openly setting up the results of 2020 to get rejected on their side. Impeaching Trump now could have benefits later on in building political momentum to hold Democrats to account.
On the other hand, instead of harming Trump, impeachment could make him a martyr. Letting him slide off into the sunset of political ignominy would let the mess he’s created for himself be the punishment. I can get talked into either option here.
The irony of everything: we ended up getting a messy version of “none of the above.” Some people resigned, and then Democrats proceeded to take the most slam-dunk impeachment setting since Nixon and promptly fumble it away. If you recall, Democrats focused on impeaching Trump over “incitement.” The week the impeachment article came out, I promptly said it would fail because there was no evidence for that.
I believed at the time, and continue to think, that Democrats should have targeted the impeachment on a different idea:
Democrats should have charged that Trump violated his oath of office by refusing to defend the United States in an instance of potential insurrection/attack on the Capitol. Suppose Trump wasn’t the one who ordered troops to get control of the situation, and he didn’t respond at all. In that case, that’s a direct dereliction of his duty that demands an answer. And there’s evidence that he didn’t step up to do anything. Any President who refuses to defend the United States or its Capitol when an angry, armed mob charges the Capitol building, kills a police officer, injures countless more, and ransacks the building should answer for that his decisions in that moment.
We still don’t know the answers to that theory. The 1/6 commission in the House allegedly investigates this, but we’ve got nothing so far. Proving that article would have required some due diligence by Congress — something they didn’t want to do (and it’s unclear they’ll ever do it).
The reason the 1/6 commission exists is to give Democrats something to attack Republicans with for 2022 and 2024.
The way Democrats approached this impeachment was so ham-handed that it left me wondering if they wanted to accomplish impeachment. I noted, with some bewilderment, that Nancy Pelosi did not rely on Republicans willing to hammer Trump like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney — people now on this 1/6 commission. They got denied when they requested the opportunity to speak on the House floor for impeachment. I noted:
Part of impeachment is building that political case in favor of impeachment. If you’re a Democrat, getting a Republican to build a case for impeachment does two things. First, It makes your argument seem righteous and bipartisan. Second, it protects your more moderate members in purple districts by placing all the heat on those Republicans and not Democrats. Your weak flank can hide behind Republicans instead of their own vote. Nancy Pelosi and Democrats got neither of these things.
The easy explanation for this, which could be true regardless of what I say, is that Pelosi and Democrats are inept nincompoops. The proof for this is pretty simple: Pelosi doesn’t have any skill at working with “the other side.” You’re either doing what she wants, or nothing gets done at all. And when I say “other side,” I mean both Republicans and the various factions within her party. She’s not a dealmaker. She’s a prolific fundraiser and someone who only knows how to shove partisan legislation through with a simple majority. All her major legislative achievements from Obamacare on down required plowing through hyper-partisan legislation with no input from the other side.
If option one was Pelosi and Democrats are idiots, the second door was more Machiavellian: they didn’t want Trump removed. They wanted Trump around forever and purposely set up this impeachment as a poison pill for Republicans to accept.
The other explanation gives her more credit by suggesting that Democrats don’t want the Senate to convict Trump. They’ve purposely hammered this proposal because they only desire Democrats supporting it and no Republicans. Democrats are trying to keep Trump alive and well because they want him torturing Republicans for the next four years and potentially running again in 2024. Trump, with the black mark on him, is politically radioactive. Having Trump around is beneficial to Democrats electorally.
By giving Republicans no room to jump into this process, Democrats are pushing them back to Trump so they can continue blasting the right in the media.
The irony of all this analysis: Democrats ended up fumbling impeachment so severely that it aided Trump, unified Republicans, and now Democrats face a wipe-out in 2022 for the ineptness of the Biden administration. You could make a strong case that Democrats’ focus on impeachment early in Biden’s term prevented or distracted Biden/Democrats from recognizing inflation as it started ramping up in the late winter/early spring.
By the time Democrats moved past their second failed impeachment, they had encountered inflation, stalled negotiations in Congress of significant legislation, Afghanistan, and more. 2021 was a brutal year for Democrats, and the second half of the year was one in which Democrats only had the success of the infrastructure bill — and no one seems to care about it anymore. It’s a half-hearted win that’ll get some ad-time during election season, but it’s all but forgotten.
That’s a long way of re-examining January 6 a year later and looking forward. What happened that day was awful. But whatever lessons could get gleaned from that day won’t, because our political class is incapable of learning lessons at the moment. They’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
We have the benefit of hindsight with 2020 and 2021 behind us. What lays ahead in 2022?
I swung hard in both directions over the 2020 election and January 6 and Trump’s role in politics moving forward. I started by believing that Republicans were in deep trouble over those events and swung back to my post-election instincts that Republicans were fine moving forward and Trump would have a significant role moving forward.
I continue to believe Republicans will easily win back the House and retake the Senate in 2022. I don’t particularly think the midterms will be close, barring some major external factor that dramatically reshapes politics in favor of Democrats. In 2002, for example, Republicans won midterm seats while controlling all of Congress because the voting public trusted Republicans over Democrats in handling the national response to terrorism after 9/11.
Barring one of those kinds of events, Republicans are a near-lock to retake Congress.
January 6, 2021, has meaning; it was a dark day for the Republic. However, it won’t have political legs in 2022. The real question is, how does it impact Trump post-2022? It’s too early to tell on that front. The most significant factor to Trump’s viability in politics is social media. His continuing ban on Twitter and Facebook has effectively nullified his political strengths. Because he’s out of the limelight, he gets the benefits of people not thinking about him. But also, because of that, it’s harder for him to drive the conversation and suck the oxygen out of the room.
The great irony is that if Facebook and Twitter wanted to harm Trump politically, they’d crank the volume up on him. It’d help Democrats and harm Republicans. That irony is why the progressive left continues not to understand the power of free speech — the best way to defeat some of these ideas is to let them get aired out. People get a chance to see it, consider it, and laugh it out of existence.
Age is another overriding factor that continues to weigh on my mind in 2022.
- Trump is 75
- Mitch McConnell is 79
- Pelosi is 81
- Chuck Schumer is 71
- Biden is 79
Former Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid recently passed away at 82. He retired from the Senate when he was 77. Reid will lie in state at the US Capitol building next week.
I point that out because we have to expect leadership turnover soon purely on actuarial grounds. Schumer is the youngest of the bunch at 71. The younger politicians in New York (AOC and others) probably will be gunning for his Senate seat soon.
I’m not trying to be morbid with this analysis. It’s just the reality we have at the moment. Some rumblings have been occurring on the GOP side of a potential successor to McConnell. John Thune is considered a top option, but even he’s been considering retirement. Lindsey Graham is another option.
They aren’t alone. 21 Senators are between the age of 70-80. There’s a growing wave of retirements in the House as Democrats bail out from challenging races. Leadership change is coming for both parties, sooner rather than later. Does that begin in 2022? We’ll see, but I don’t think you can entirely discount it. The faces of both parties will change significantly from the beginning of this decade to the end.
My last thought, looking forward into 2022: the economy is a significant issue. Bloomberg reporter Sofia Horta e Costa detailed a swath of bad economic news out of China this week. The world’s second-largest economy is not in a healthy spot at the moment, and this is occurring in the middle of political upheaval in China, as the communist party realigns leadership for the next five years.
Inflation continues to be a drag on the US economy. The recent Federal Reserve statement indicated a much more hawkish stance on interest rate hikes in 2022 — which led immediately to a bloodbath in tech stocks and crypto. James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said the Fed’s institutional credibility is at stake in attacking inflation.
If the Fed gets skittish and attacks inflation faster than anticipated (credibility isn’t an economic equation — it’s political), that will cause ripple effects throughout the economy as investors shift money to different stocks and areas that are safer than tech/crypto. That’s already starting to get priced in now. These kinds of moves raise the specter of recession in the United States.
All the actors involved may get their reactions right, time everything ideally, and we escape these pandemic shocks largely unscathed from here out. But I’m expecting more wrenches to get tossed in. Sprinkle in China’s issues, and it’s a dangerous mix.
If I sound somewhat pessimistic, I am to start 2022. I’m optimistic about America’s future, both mid-and-long-term. I’m pessimistic about the short term, primarily because I don’t trust either the Biden administration or China to react appropriately to dangers to the local or global economy. I’m also skeptical about how new leadership will shape both the Republican and Democratic parties moving forward.
There are a lot of moving parts in the next few years. How everything shakes out will reshape politics and the economy.
Links of the week
Kamala Harris: January 6 Is Not ‘the Problem at Hand’ – Dan McLaughlin, National Review
Lifesaving Covid Treatments Face Rationing as Virus Surges Again: Scarce supplies and surging Covid cases have caused health officials, hospitals, doctors and patients to scramble for pills and infusions. – NYT
Birth rates are plummeting globally — Future Perfect Vox
The New Misogyny: The claim that anyone can be a woman is a denigration of all women – Christine Rosen, Commentary Magazine
Inside Florida, the state that forgot COVID-19 is a national emergency – Kyle Smith, NYPost
Progressives Finally Realize That Covid Is Not a ‘Moral Failing’: The same people who until now treated catching the virus as evidence of a character flaw have suddenly changed their minds. Don’t expect an apology. – Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Thanks for reading!