Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Alex Jones has his day in court


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Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:

The Ads That Won the Kansas Abortion Referendum

Avoiding progressive pieties, the ad makers aimed at the broad, persuadable middle of the electorate.

I reviewed eight ads paid for by Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. One used the word choice. Four used decision. Three, neither. The spots usually included the word abortion, but not always.

To appeal to libertarian sentiments, the spots aggressively attacked the anti-abortion amendment as a “government mandate.” To avoid alienating moderates who support constraints on abortion, one ad embraced the regulations already on the Kansas books.

And they used testimonials to reach the electorate: a male doctor who refused to violate his “oath”; a Catholic grandmother worried about her granddaughter’s freedom; a married mom who had a life-saving abortion; and a male pastor offering a religious argument for women’s rights and, implicitly, abortion.

Let’s dissect some of the ads.

Jack Jenkins/Religion News Service:

In Kansas abortion vote, a blow to Catholic bishops’ political strategy

‘If this is what the bishops are going to do, if this was their plan for a ‘post-Roe’ world, then Catholics are going to be very disappointed,’ said one observer of the Catholic hierarchy.

Analysts were quick to frame the result as a setback for anti-abortion movement, but activists and experts say it also amounts to a rejection of the Catholic Church hierarchy, which had shelled out massive sums of money in support of the amendment’s passage. The vote may hint, too, at mounting backlash against the church’s involvement in the nation’s abortion debate — not least among Catholics themselves.

In the wake of the vote, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who publicly supported the amendment’s passage, issued a statement Wednesday lamenting its failure.

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The Trumpists are winning. Here are 3 hidden reasons to fear them.

The Trumpists in question are Republicans who won nominations for positions such as governor and secretary of state in critical swing states. The alarming truth is this: Many of them deny the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 victory, even as they are seeking positions of control over the certification of future presidential elections.

But the reality of the threat this poses keeps getting lost in euphemisms. There’s an unwillingness in the media to state the true nature of their project in plain, blunt, clear terms.

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Paul Waldman/WaPo:

Why criticism of Democrats for boosting radical Trumpists is wrong

[John] Gibbs {MI] is one of a number of such candidates Democrats have tried to help, and the response has been widespread outrage. Outside of the Democratic officials who made the decision to deploy this tactic, there seems to be a nearly universal consensus that what they have done is reckless and hypocritical.

But while I wouldn’t unequivocally endorse parties trying to get their opponents to nominate the looniest candidates possible, there are a number of reasons why the criticism is overblown and even misguided. In fact, we might look back and say that Democrats made a strategic judgment that struck a reasonable balance between risk and reward.

First, note that one of the first things Meijer did after his defeat was to appear at a “unity” event with Gibbs. Whatever Meijer’s distaste for Gibbs’s repugnant views, he’s backing Gibbs in the general election, so spare me the laments for the departure of such a noble public servant.

Second, we can’t escape this fact: Gibbs was exactly what Republican primary voters in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District wanted. This race got plenty of attention, and Gibbs was not hiding who he is. That’s what they chose, just as Republican voters have in state after state. On the same day, Republicans in another swing state, Arizona, nominated an entire slate of election saboteurs; their nominee for secretary of state is an actual member of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group.

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Politico:

Trump faces uphill fight on executive privilege in DOJ probe

History and recent battles in civil suits signal he’s unlikely to prevail if he seeks to block witnesses’ grand jury testimony about Jan. 6.

Short, Jacob and Cipollone testified to the Jan. 6 select committee but negotiated strict terms to avoid discussing their direct interactions with Trump — a nod to the disputed possibility that such communications could be protected by executive privilege. But it’s unlikely that such claims would pass muster in a criminal probe.

“There is no way that any court would say they didn’t have to testify to conversations with President Trump in a grand jury investigation — a criminal investigation arising out of that conduct,” said Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama and represented President Bill Clinton in several executive privilege fights. “There’s no doubt if this got to a court, it would hold that the department is entitled to the information. … I think it’s a no-brainer.”

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NY Times:

Is It All About ‘Fealty to Trump’s Delusions’? Three Writers Talk About Where the G.O.P. Is Headed.

[Tim] Miller: I just want to say here that I do get pissed about the notion that it’s us, the Never Trumpers, who are obsessed with litigating Jan. 6. Pennsylvania is a critical state that now has a nominee for governor who won because of his fealty to this lie, could win the general election and could put his finger on the scale in 2024. The same may be true in another key state, Arizona. This is a red-level threat for our democracy.

A lot of Republicans in Washington, D.C., want to sort of brush it away just like they brushed away the threat before Jan. 6, because it’s inconvenient.

[Ross] Douthat: Let me frame that D.C. Republican objection a different way: If this is a red-level threat for our democracy, why aren’t Democrats acting like it? Why did Democratic Party money enter so many of these races on behalf of the more extreme, stop-the-steal Republican? For example, given the closeness of the race, that sort of tactic quite possibly helped defeat Meijer in Michigan.

Miller: Give me a break. The ads from the left trying to tilt the races were stupid and frankly unpatriotic. I have spoken out about this before. But it’s not the Democrats who are electing these insane people. Were the Democrats responsible for Mark Finchem? Mehmet Oz? Herschel Walker? Mastriano won by over 20 points. This is what Republican voters want.

Also, advertising is a two-way street. If all these self-righteous Republicans were so angry about the ads designed to promote John Gibbs, they could’ve run pro-Meijer ads! Where was Kevin McCarthy defending his member? He was in Florida shining Mr. Trump’s shoes.

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