Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The chaos ahead is predictable

Clive Crook/Bloomberg:

American and British Conservatives Are Frozen in Failure

Both Republicans and Tories are finding the revolutions of 2016 difficult to reverse

For the past few years, the US and the UK have followed strikingly similar political trajectories. Against all odds, populist uprisings captured both countries’ conservative parties, secured power and embarked on projects of national transformation. These efforts went badly (to put it generously), and in due course support for the rebellions subsided.

Lately voters have been calling for a rethink. In both countries, this is proving harder than you’d suppose.

John Cassidy/The New Yorker:

Kevin McCarthy’s Hollow Victory Will Have Economic and Political Consequences

If the new House Speaker is to get anything done, he will need to retain the support of far-right extremists.
More immediately, McCarthy’s hollow victory opens the way for months more of G.O.P. performance art, which will likely encompass passing legislation that has no chance of being enacted by the Democratic-controlled Senate and holding innumerable conspiracy-theory-stoking hearings into the covid-19 pandemic, Hunter Biden, and anything else that might garner favorable coverage on Fox News and Newsmax. Along the way, the enduring fealty of many House Republicans to Donald Trump is also likely to become clear.

A new House speaker with 49% (216) of the vote – heading the U.S. minority party, beholden to 20 most extreme members and ex-POTUS who lost the popular vote twice – is a disaster for democracy McCarthy and the tyranny of minority rule. My new column

— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) January 8, 2023

Joanne B Freeman/The New York Times:

It’s Tempting to Laugh at McCarthy’s Struggles, but History Shows That This Type of Chaos Is Not a Joke

This was far from the first time the House was mired in a stalemate over the speakership. It’s the 15th such battle in Congress’s history, and the ninth time that electing a speaker required more than three ballots.

Each of those times, the struggle was a litmus test of the state of party politics and the state of the nation. Our recent contest was much the same, exposing party fractures and irreconcilable differences, but unlike previous battles, it lacked a policy- and legislation-bound core. More than anything else, it was about power — a gap that reveals much about the state of the nation.

Jim Tankersley/The New York Times:

Speaker Drama Raises New Fears on Debt Limit

An emboldened conservative flank and concessions made to win votes could lead to a protracted standoff on critical fiscal issues, risking economic pain.

Economists, Wall Street analysts and political observers are warning that the concessions he made to fiscal conservatives could make it very difficult for Mr. McCarthy to muster the votes to raise the debt limit — or even put such a measure to a vote. That could prevent Congress from doing the basic tasks of keeping the government open, paying the country’s bills and avoiding default on America’s trillions of dollars in debt.

The speakership battle that spanned more than four days and 15 rounds of votes suggested President Biden and Congress could be on track later this year for the most perilous debt-limit debate since 2011, when former President Barack Obama and a new Republican majority in the House nearly defaulted on the nation’s debt before cutting an 11th-hour deal.

Rick Perlstein/New York Magazine:


The Long Authoritarian History of the Capitol Riot

After 25 years studying the American right, I think I’ve drilled down to the irreducible core of the thing. Because in these United States everything eventually comes down to questions of commerce, I found it, appropriately enough, in a 1981 yearbook of Advertising Age, in a case study examining the work of a marketing expert the magazine had enshrined as its Adman of the Year: Richard Wirthlin, chief strategist for Ronald Reagan’s recent successful presidential campaign.

Wirthlin began his work in 1979 with an exhaustive “Survey of Voter Values and Attitudes,” in which he discovered that Reagan supporters “obtain high scores on … authoritarianism — and a low score on egalitarianism.” It continued, “Eastern European ethnic groups living in large cities … follow the same pattern, and hence were a prime target for conversion.” Thus Reagan launched his nomination campaign with “highly visible visits to such neighborhoods.”

A Wirthlin assistant was then quoted: “Reagan decided to stop the practice because he considered it exploitative.” In fact, Reagan made constant campaign stops in white ethnic neighborhoods, and God knows his appeal to authoritarians never sagged. The crucial point is that a Reagan associate even thought to claim Reagan put the kibosh on the enterprise. There’s an old saying: Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. Meaning, those who say one thing and do another are at least acknowledging that right and wrong exist. If you want to understand the evolution of Donald Trump’s Republican Party, that’s the whole rancid enchilada.

It’s always been about building a political base of authoritarians. But at least Republicans used to be sheepish about it. Donald “They’re Rapists” Trump was but a milestone in the Republican Party’s long journey toward dropping the pretense altogether. January 6, 2021, was another. Build your party’s power by actively seeking out thugs, and of course things eventually get out of hand.

And now all the obstinate right wingers get their reward – Sunday show appearances.

— Natalie Jackson (@nataliemj10) January 8, 2023

Céline Gounder/The New York Times:

Grant Wahl Was a Loving Husband. I Will Always Protect His Legacy.

I knew that disinformation purveyors would blame Grant’s death on Covid vaccines, and I knew what tactics they would use to do so. I also knew that debunking what these people believe head-on in public risks giving them the attention they crave and invites further trolling. But this situation was different from the many others I’d dealt with as an infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist or while serving on the Biden-Harris transition Covid Advisory Board. This was my Grant, and I needed to know what had happened to him. And I knew I had to share that information publicly: Pairing facts with empathy is the best way to disempower trolls.

Gregg Gonsalves/The Nation:

Why Are So Many People Dying? Reaping the Anti-Vaxx Whirlwind.
Though it was GOP politicians who first came for the Covid vaccines, not all vaccine resistance is partisan—or political.

What is now becoming clear is that this resistance to vaccination is leaching out of the soil of the same partisan divides—and spreading beyond aversion to Covid-19 immunization. Party affiliation is now becoming more and more associated with hesitancy toward immunization against such common childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio and chickenpox. Recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that more than a third of parents—up from less than a quarter in 2019—now oppose school vaccination requirements. Once again, this resistance to vaccination is concentrated among Republicans or those that lean that way; 44 percent of such parents now say they want out of these routine vaccination requirements.

I condemn this outrageous assault on #Brazil’s govt buildings incited by demagogue Bolsonaro’s reckless disregard for democratic principles. 2 yrs since Jan.6, Trump’s legacy continues to poison our hemisphere. Protecting democracy & holding malign actors to account is essential.

— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) January 8, 2023

Eric Topol/The Washington Post:

The coronavirus is speaking. It’s saying it’s not done with us.

There’s no sugar-coating it: The world has let its guard down on covid-19. And the virus’s latest dominant form, XBB.1.5, makes clear that we’re doing so just as the virus finds new ways to hurt us.

The new dominant strain shows that the virus is always evolving to spread more quickly and infect us more efficiently. That should serve as a wake-up call for the country to re-invest in new vaccines, treatments and pandemic monitoring.

The XBB strain is the first fast-spreading recombinant variant — meaning it is a fusion of two omicron lineages. Its original version led to a wave of infections in Singapore. Then it added two critical mutations to become XBB.1.5, which was first detected in New York.

These two mutations maintain the high level of immune escape of XBB, while also adding more infectivity advantage, giving the virus better ability to attach itself to the receptors that get it into our cells. The variant identified has rapidly become dominant throughout the Northeast and is destined to do so across the country in the weeks ahead.

-Tesla stock crashing -Twitter likely facing lawsuits for not paying rent or severance -Ukraine holding strong, West sending more tanks -False voter fraud conspiracy theories don’t overthrow Brazil govt, lead to mass arrests -Glass Onion well received Bad few weeks for Elon Musk

— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) January 9, 2023