Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Farewell to an era, hello to an unwelcome one

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr Donald Trump...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Susan Glasser/New Yorker:

John McCain’s Funeral Was the Biggest Resistance Meeting Yet

Two ex-Presidents and one eloquent daughter teamed up to rebuke the pointedly uninvited Donald Trump.

McCain’s grand funeral—the Obama adviser David Axelrod called it an exercise in “civic communion”—underscored a fact that is often lost about Washington these days. The city is much more bipartisan, in some respects, than it has ever been, more united than it may currently seem, in its hatred of Donald Trump.

Some are more forthright about this than others, for understandable reasons. Others are circumspect, especially the elected Republican officials who have now publicly bowed to Trump after trying and failing to stop his ascendance in their party. But their presence at McCain’s funeral suggested that the final chapter has not yet been written in the Republican drama over what to do about the crude interloper who has taken over their party. McCain certainly died hoping for something other than the current, slavish devotion to Trump that many Republicans on Capitol Hill now profess, and that is what his funeral was meant to remind us. Watching John Boehner and Elizabeth Warren, David Petraeus and Leon Panetta, Al Gore and Madeleine Albright and Paul Ryan glad-hand in the pre-noon hours of September 1st, there was no doubt of what their presence there, together, was meant to convey.

 

So here’s an important twitter thread about NeverTrumpers… and us.

 

More here.

EJ Dionne, Norm Ornstein, Thomas Mann/WaPo:

Discarding norms is not always bad. But how you do it matters.

Put another way, he was the anti-Trump: He guarded the old norms essential to decent government — the ones President Trump has been demolishing mercilessly. Among them: that candidates and presidents should not withhold their tax returns, threaten their political opponents with prison, interfere with investigations, or denigrate law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the name of self-protection.

Norms do change, and often have changed, in American history. Partly that’s because norms, which are assumed and usually unwritten, can mean different things to different people. They are not formal rules, and they can apply both to individuals and to institutions. The Oxford English Dictionary calls them “a standard or pattern, especially of social behavior, that is typical or expected of a group.” And while norms refer to conduct, they are rooted in values. Trump’s critics see him as violating them on both an individual and an institutional basis, and they object to his conduct as well as the underlying values it reflects.

Wanna disrupt? Fine, but bring something better to the table.

Chris Geidner/BuzzFeed:

Papadopoulos’s Lawyers Asked For No Jail Time And Said Trump “Nodded With Approval” At Suggestion Of Meeting With Putin

The late-night court filing contains some eye-catching information about George Papadopoulos’s time with the Trump campaign.

Of that well-known foreign policy meeting on March 31, 2016, where Papadopoulos was photographed sitting at a table with then-candidate Trump, his lawyers wrote, “Eager to show his value to the campaign, George announced at the meeting that he had connections that could facilitate a foreign policy meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While some in the room rebuffed George’s offer, Mr. Trump nodded with approval and deferred to Mr. [Jeff] Sessions who appeared to like the idea and stated that the campaign should look into it.”

In the veer-to-cartoonish portion of the filing, the next paragraph begins: “George’s giddiness over Mr. Trump’s recognition was prominent during the days that followed the March 31, 2016 meeting. He had a sense of unbridled loyalty to the candidate and his campaign and set about trying to organize the meeting with President Putin.”

The lawyers also wrote about another meeting that Papadopoulos apparently discussed with investigators.

“[Papadopoulos] detailed a meeting in late May 2016 where he revealed to the Greek Foreign Minister that the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton,” they wrote. “He explained that this meeting took place days before President Vladimir Putin traveled to Greece to meet with Greek officials.”

This town:

 

Kwame Anthony Appiah/WaPo:

People don’t vote for what they want. They vote for who they are.

All politics is identity politics.

Still, if tribalism is responsible for some of the worst aspects of our politics, it’s also responsible for some of the best. According to the historian David Herbert Donald, the 19th-century abolitionists belonged to a tribe — essentially, an old-line Northern elite displaced by a new commercial and manufacturing class — that sought to regain its position through ethical crusades. The moral math was correct, but social identity was what helped it spread. Another kind of tribalism helped the civil rights movement go mass. We’re always hearing that the Democrats lost the South when — especially after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — the party of segregation became the party of civil rights. And the red shift was real. But we don’t pause to reflect on how partisan identity politics actually slowed that defection.

Yet we all belong to multiple tribes, and many Democrats who had once supported or been reconciled to segregation stuck it out when their leaders reversed course. Almost the entire South went in 1976 for Jimmy Carter, who won by wide margins in notably white states like Arkansas and Tennessee. Voters who had supported states-rights candidates got behind the progressive from Plains, Ga., because — well, they were Southern Democrats, and so was Carter. In national elections, the region didn’t become reliably Republican until the late 1990s. A generation of Southern Democrats had to die first.

Briahna Gray/Intercept:

BEWARE THE RACE REDUCTIONIST

The fear that identity-based issues might be “thrown under the bus” in favor of more populist, “universal” policies is legitimate: The Democratic Party has certainly done as much in the recent past for causes less noble than class equality. But the irony is that anxiety over class reductionism has led some to defensively embrace an equally unproductive and regressive ideology: race reductionism.

If you’re #online, like I am, you’re probably already familiar with the main argument. It goes something like this: If a policy doesn’t resolve racism “first,” it’s at worst, racist and at best, not worth pursuing.

According to one popular iteration of this theme, “Medicare for All” is presumptively racist or sexist because it won’t eliminate discriminatory point-of-service care or fully address women’s reproductive needs if it’s not thoughtfully designed. Perhaps you remember Rep. James Clyburn’s claim that a free college and university plan would “destroy” historically black colleges and universities. Maybe you’ve heard that the minimum wage is “racist” because it “Kills Jobs and Doesn’t Help the Poor,” or that it’s an act of privilege to care about Wall Street corruption, because only the wealthy could possibly mind what the banks do with the mortgages and pensions of millions of Americans. Perchance you’ve even been pitched on the incredible notion that rooftop solar panels hurt minority communities.

J

Jeet Heer/New Republic:

How John McCain’s Nationalist Vision Was Eclipsed by Trump’s

MAGA, by contrast, is a bitter, backward-looking nationalism. It has little use for immigrants, except as political foils (see Trump’s exploitation of the murder of Mollie Tibbetts), and is fueled by racial resentment. In foreign policy, MAGA sees the U.S. not as the pillar of the international order, but a sucker being exploited by allies. For Trump, good foreign policy is to get more out of other countries than they take, whether through plunder (“take the oil”) or shakedowns (starting trade wars, threatening NATO allies). And of course, Trump has openly extolled torture.

Yet if American Greatness and MAGA are two different paths of conservative nationalism can take, they do share a connection. By picking Sarah Palin to be his running mate in 2008, John McCain helped pave the way for MAGA and Trump. McCain wanted to energized the GOP base but he got more than he bargained for. Palin went rogue with atavistic resentment, most famously in her attacks on Obama for “palling around with terrorists.” It was a short distance between that and birtherism, which Palin also embraced. Trump was all but inevitable.

McCain was clearly uncomfortable with this turn. He saw little of Palin after 2008, and earlier this year expressed regret that he didn’t pick Joe Lieberman as his running mate instead. McCain also reportedly wants Obama to deliver a eulogy at his funeral—and has asked that Trump not attend.

In many ways, McCain was a conventional conservative, but he was more willing to work with Democrats than most post-Gingrich Republicans have been. This led to occasional heterodoxy, as in his support for campaign finance reform, his criticism of George W. Bush’s torture policy, and his vote against repealing Obamacare. But bucking the Republican Party line was something that McCain did only rarely, though he extracted maximum publicity when he did so. (He had a gift for endearing himself to the press.) In truth, he wasn’t quite the “maverick” that his most ardent fans held him to be. But his brand of American Greatness conservatism was far more flexible, and less polarizing, than MAGA.

McCain practiced identity politics the Republican way: tribalism.

Talitha Leflouria/Atlantic:

When Slavery Is Erased From Plantations

Some presidential estates and other historical sites have struggled to reconcile founding-era exceptionalism with the true story of America’s original

After decades of contentious debate surrounding the legitimacy of Hemings’s connection to Jefferson, Monticello has finally acknowledged in unqualified terms that the president was, in fact, the father of Hemings’s offspring. “She was his concubine.” “Sally Hemings had at least six children fathered by Thomas Jefferson.” These are the bold new phrases that the current Hemings exhibit uses to address the relationship between these two American figures.

Monticello first embarked on this truth-telling mission by excavating the experiences of the enslaved people who lived and labored at Monticello, and by seeking to honor those nameless and forgotten souls buried near the site’s current-day visitor parking lot. “The opening of the ‘Life of Sally Hemings’ exhibit [and] the ‘Getting Word’ oral-history project … is the culmination of decades of research on slavery and the lives of enslaved people at Monticello,” Niya Bates, the public historian of slavery and African American life at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, told me. “The goal of these new spaces is to not only acknowledge the humanity of the enslaved community, but to tell a more truthful and inclusive history of Monticello, Jefferson, and the founding era in a way that challenges people to think about all of the people that it took to found our country.”

Despite these efforts, separation still persists at Monticello and other historical sites. Of the estimated 450,000 people who visit Jefferson’s mansion each year, only 150,000 take the “Slavery at Monticello” tours. And The Hermitage, Mount Vernon, the Hofwyl-Broadfield plantation in Georgia, and the Colonial Williamsburg historic area, among others, continue to either segregate slavery or ignore it altogether.

Lying takes many forms, including omission.

Des Moines Register:

From Mollie Tibbetts’ father: Don’t distort her death to advance racist views

To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology. That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody. And yes, we love your food.

My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons — Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren — are Latino. That means I am Hispanic. I am African. I am Asian. I am European. My blood runs from every corner of the Earth because I am American. As an American, I have one tenet: to respect every citizen of the world and actively engage in the ongoing pursuit to form a more perfect union.

Given that, to knowingly foment discord among races is a disgrace to our flag. It incites fear in innocent communities and lends legitimacy to the darkest, most hate-filled corners of the American soul. It is the opposite of leadership. It is the opposite of humanity. It is heartless. It is despicable. It is shameful.

And let’s end with something for science geeks:

Long-sought because it confirms theories about the nature of matter, the Higgs particle exists only fleetingly before transforming into other, so-called “daughter” particles. Because the boson lasts only for about one septillionth of a second, researchers use the particle’s offspring as evidence of its existence.

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