Cup of Joe – November 10, 2022

New York Times: “In the first national test of the political environment since an assault on the Capitol that upended assumptions about the peaceful transfer of power, a pandemic that unsettled society and a Supreme Court decision that took away a long-established Constitutional right to abortion, voters produced a stalemate — an outcome that for Democrats was tantamount to a victory.”

“They rebuked Mr. Biden with a light touch. Yet they also showed a limited appetite for the burn-down-the-house approach that Mr. Trump has spread throughout the Republican Party.”

Daily Beast: “Democrats always expected to lose seats in the House. That much still looked like a solid bet, after a few seats were redistricted out of Democratic control. What no one seemed to expect, however, was that Democrats could possibly restrain a GOP majority to just a few seats—or even potentially retain the majority themselves.”

Dan Pfeiffer: “After a tough few months, we all deserve a little schadenfreude, right? Last night could not have gone worse for Donald J. Trump. He put himself on the ballot by endorsing candidates, holding rallies, and teasing another Presidential campaign on the eve of the election. The voters rejected Trump, Trumpism, and his chosen candidates. It was an electoral ass-kicking. Trump likely cost the GOP the Senate, several governorships, and a bunch of House seats.”

“If Trump had the self-discipline (LOL) not to make the election about himself, the Republicans would have had a much better night. Once again, the party paid the price for its fealty to Trump.”

“Imagine being a Republican, and realizing only now — after previously losing the House, Senate, and the presidency, after his losing the popular vote twice, two impeachments and multiple criminal offenses, topped off with a Clorox injection chaser — that you have a ‘Trump problem.’”— George Conway, on Twitter.

“Never underestimate how much Team Biden is underestimated.” — White House chief of staff Ron Klain, on Twitter.

Mona Charen: “The nightmare we dreaded was a red wave, crested with Trump-anointed lickspittles and morons. If that had materialized, the takeaway this morning would have been Trump’s unshakable dominance of the GOP, and the country would have marched, as if to the scaffold, to the Trump 2024 announcement.”

“That did not happen and the relief is overpowering.”

“Yes, some horrible candidates won, and a few more may yet succeed. But the red wave is looking more like a small toxic spill. The voters of Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Michigan, among other places, apparently weighed more than inflation in their calculations, and that gives a fighting chance to those who hope to right this listing ship.”

Playbook: “It has become de rigueur for presidents, following midterm elections, to stand in front of cameras, acknowledge the results (thrashings, typically) and take questions from reporters about their implications. For weeks, White House correspondents have been pushing President Joe Biden’s administration to follow that precedent.”

“Officially, the White House was coy about scheduling a news conference, saying only that Biden would address the American people after the midterms without promising a particular format. Behind the scenes, aides and allies pushed back on reporters, dismissing the need for a Q&A session if neither the House or Senate were called.”

“But today at 4 p.m. in the State Dining Room, Biden will stand and deliver — and take questions from dozens of reporters — after Democrats defied expectations of a sweeping ‘red wave’ last night.”

Punchbowl News: “To give a sense of how much of a shock this was to the Washington political establishment, consider this – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s team and allies were spread across two downtown hotels, ready to celebrate victory and their new majority. The DCCC had no public event or party scheduled.”

“But McCarthy’s Election Night bash ended up as more of a ghost town than celebratory party. For hours, dozens of GOP staffers milled around an open bar, nervously sipping drinks while watching Fox News. Next door in the ballroom, a stage emblazoned with ‘TAKE BACK THE HOUSE’ remained empty.”

Politico: McCarthy’s victory party fizzles.

Bill Sher: “This midterm featured multiple crises: a rise in prices, a rise in crime, a wave of abortion bans, the continued fallout from the pandemic, and a wave of election denialists loyal to Donald Trump. Republicans charged Democrats with botching inflation and public safety. Democrats warned that Republicans were undermining democracy and personal freedom. This wasn’t an election about one thing but a clash of narratives.”

“The two narratives achieved a rough parity of importance to voters for a few reasons. First, unlike most midterms, the opposition party could implement a major policy, thanks to a Supreme Court stacked by the opposition party that abolished a long-standing constitutional right and allowed state governments to ban abortions. Second, Trump, the opposition party’s titular leader who seems certain to run again, helped field the GOP’s slate of candidates and demanded fealty to the scurrilous notion the last election was stolen.”

Jonathan Chait: “The Republican-aligned media, which has spent the past year trumpeting DeSantis as the party’s future, has devoted itself to this message almost exclusively since last night.”

“The sentiment that Trump lost and DeSantis won is reflected across the spectrum of conservative media, encompassing those who disdain Trump as a liability but support him anyway and those who embrace him enthusiastically…”

“The conventional wisdom all this time has held that Trump would simply bully DeSantis or anybody who stood in his path, just as he humiliated the likes of Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. But this belief relies on the lazy assumption that whatever dynamic pertained in the last contested Republican primary would automatically continue. DeSantis has the advantage of a unified conservative-movement apparatus behind him, which Trump’s rotating cast of 2016 opponents never enjoyed.”

Donald Trump is “furious” over the disappointing showing by Republicans nationally, and blames people in particular who advised him to back Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race, including his wife Melania, the New York Times reports.

There are also people pushing Trump to reschedule his announcement next week, “but it’s risky and would be acknowledging he’s wounded by yesterday, something that some of his advisers insist is not the case.”

Semafor: Donald Trump’s candidates slumped and he’s looking for someone to blame.

“One likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 had a triumphant night on Tuesday, and it wasn’t Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“The former president spent the final days of the campaign lashing out and even threatening Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose apparent interest in running against Trump has puzzled him, according to advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations. The Florida governor didn’t return fire, other than to hold his own campaign event on Saturday, competing with a Trump rally in Miami and further irking the former president.”

“Come election night, however, it was DeSantis holding the ebullient victory party, having won reelection in a 20-point landslide, almost 15 points better than Trump’s 2020 margin in their shared home state. At the party, DeSantis’s supporters chanted ‘Two more years!’ — encouraging the governor to seek the presidency before finishing his second term.”

Ross Douthat: Did Ron DeSantis just become the 2024 Republican front-runner?

New York Times: “Throughout Monday, Republicans who had pressing election-eve work to do instead spent their time trading text messages and anxious calls about whether Mr. Trump was poised to animate Democratic and Republican voters alike as they prepared to vote on Election Day by putting himself front and center.”

“Among their concerns: The chances that Mr. Trump would be blamed for Republican defeats in some contests would only increase if he were to make himself the center of the national conversation on the eve of the election.”

Washington Post: “Republican leaders succeeded in talking Trump out of announcing by telling him it would get buried under election news and he’d get more attention later… Trump is scheduled to interview staff later this week for the nascent campaign.”

“Trump has been determined in recent weeks to get credit for the midterm results should Republicans do well.”

Trump is now promising a “very big announcement” on November 15.

“I don’t think anyone really cares, and he does not clear the field… Anyone who thinks it’s a smart idea to announce a potential presidential bid after the election but before Christmas, it’s just the worst time you could possibly do it. My sense is the former president needs better advisers if that’s really what his strategy is going to be.”— New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), quoted by Fox News, on Donald Trump announcing a 2024 presidential bid this month.

“If you want the Republican Party to thrive, we’ve got to just finally speak out and say, ‘This man is a loser.’”— Former Trump aide Alyssa Farah Griffin, on CNN, speaking about her former boss.

Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called on Donald Trump to “pause” his plans to run for president after the poor GOP performance in the midterms.
Said McEnany: “I think he needs to put it on pause. Absolutely. Look, he’ll make that decision. He’ll make his own decision.”

National Review: “No excuses, Republicans. Everyone thought you had just about the ideal issue environment for a midterm election, and the exit polls verified it. Seven in ten Americans said they were ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘angry’ about the state of the country. Around three-quarters of voters nationally characterized the state of the economy as ‘poor’ or ‘not good,’ and the same amount said that inflation has caused them severe or moderate hardship. About two-thirds said that gas prices have been causing them hardship. You had parents livid about the learning loss in schools because of the long closures for Covid-19 and inappropriate materials in the curriculum. You had an unpopular president, who was such a liability that Democrats couldn’t let him go anywhere near a swing state.”

“And the nation, deeply dissatisfied with the way the Democrats were running things, looked at what the GOP offered as the alternative and concluded, ‘Nope, I’ll stick with what the Democrats are giving me’ in a lot of key places.”

Jessica Taylor: “This election was a rebuke of the former president — but will Republicans actually hold him accountable, as a 2024 announcement looms? Trump elevated damaged candidates simply because they would show fealty to him, not be the best choice to flip a seat from blue to red. Republicans should blame him for snatching possible defeat from the jaws of victory, but will there be any real backlash?”

“In fact, Trump could enter a new presidential cycle even worse off than he was before in battleground states, with Democratic governors holding on in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — and even the possibility of state legislatures in the latter two states flipping from red to blue. So much for trying to get a legitimate presidential result overturned.”

Donald Trump seems a bit pre-occupied with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) today:

“Now that the Election in Florida is over, and everything went quite well, shouldn’t it be said that in 2020, I got 1.1 Million more votes in Florida than Ron D got this year, 5.7 Million to 4.6 Million? Just asking?”

Charles C.W. Cooke: “If they have any intention of turning around their party’s increasingly moribund fortunes, Republican voters must respond to last night’s profoundly disappointing midterm-election result by telling the Republican establishment to pound sand.”

“That’s right: It is time for Donald Trump to go.”

“I’m not being cute: Trump is the Republican establishment now. He’s the default, the Man, the swamp. It is Trump who is widely considered the front-runner for the party’s nomination in 2024. It is Trump whose endorsements are treated as if they were official edicts. It is Trump to whom the press and the public tend to link all GOP nominees. And, judging by the squeals that emanated from his allies yesterday, Trump’s machine intends to do everything it can to keep it that way, and to thus ensure that he wins the next primary election and loses the next presidential election. With the country in its present state, Republicans simply cannot afford that sort of frivolous, low-energy, old-boys-club complacency.”

Rolling Stone: “Trump is also focusing on preserving his own standing in the Republican Party. Another person familiar with the situation says the ex-president is now adamantly keeping track of which GOP figures try to blame him during the fallout from the midterms, and which prominent Republicans begin to seriously inch away from him and toward possible 2024 rivals like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.”

Vanity Fair reports Trump “is furious.”

“For the last several months, West Wing aides have quietly prepared for the next big transition point: the exodus of aides and Cabinet members that typically follows the midterm election,” Politico reports.  “Jeff Zients and Natalie Quillian, who oversaw the transition two years ago, have been talking to people at the Cabinet, deputy Cabinet and senior administration levels about their future plans. They’re preparing for departures and working with Gautam Raghavan, who leads the Presidential Personnel Office, to develop lists of potential replacements for the president to consider.”

Playbook: “For all the Democratic fretting about a lack of a cohesive midterm message, they argue that the White House did its job: They executed a policy agenda that gave candidates more than enough to campaign on, giving them a fighting chance in what was destined to be an uphill battle.”

Said one Biden campaign alum: “Usually the president’s party gets absolutely destroyed. It’s usually catastrophic. Often they are avoiding the president’s agenda. If you look at what Dems are running on — it’s the president’s agenda. They’re all embracing it.”

It’s still very likely Republicans will control the House after the final races are called in the coming days. But the GOP’s margin will be very small, perhaps not much bigger than Democrats had for the last two years. While it was tough to govern, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it work. But Kevin McCarthy is no Nancy Pelosi. In fact, it’s no longer sure McCarthy will be able to win the majority of his conference.

As one senior GOP aide told Politico: “If Kevin is under 225, the knives are out, and his speakership will be in peril.”

As always in Republican politics, all eyes are on Donald Trump. While the former president finally endorsed McCarthy for speaker in a Fox News interview, don’t be surprised if Trump is now looking for a scapegoat to blame for the red wave not materializing.

Trump, who is expected to announce soon his presidential bid in 2024, desperately needs to distract from his own complicity in the GOP’s poor showing last night. The easiest target is “My Kevin.”

The “knives are out for Kevin McCarthy,” a Republican source tells Fox News.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) “has been making calls to members advocating that lawmakers vote against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to be the next speaker of the House in the wake of the GOP’s underperformance in the midterm election cycle,” the Washington Examiner reports.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “is moving swiftly to lock down the votes to claim the speaker’s gavel as a hard-right faction of his conference discusses whether to mount a long-shot challenge to complicate his bid and force concessions in the process,” Politico reports.

“McCarthy privately spoke to his closest advisers and confidantes in a Wednesday morning phone call just hours after his party appeared on track to take the House but fell short of their bullish expectations of a massive GOP landslide.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrived at the Capitol, telling reporters, “I don’t know any more than you guys do,” CNN reports.  Asked how he was feeling, he replied: “I don’t deal in feelings.”

Missouri voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Vox notes that Maryland also legalized marijuana but voters in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected the measures. 

“Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Michigan voters approved an amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution,” the Detroit Free Press reports.  “Proposal 3 establishes a ‘fundamental right to reproductive freedom’ which includes − but is not limited to − the right to seek abortion. It also protects a right to contraception and infertility care, for instance.”

“In a major victory for abortion rights groups, Kentucky voters rejected a proposal to revise the state constitution to make clear there is no protected right to abortion,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

“Unofficial election results from the Associated Press Wednesday morning showed voters narrowly defeated Amendment 2, a largely Republican-backed measure that sought to add these words to the Kentucky constitution: ‘to protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.’”

“Vladimir Putin won’t attend the Group of 20 summit next week, as the Kremlin seeks to protect the president from potential high-level tensions over his invasion of Ukraine,” Bloomberg reports.

“Ending months of suspense, Putin’s decision avoids potential confrontations with other world leaders, including US president Joe Biden who has labeled the Russian president a ‘war criminal.’ The Kremlin also risked Putin being shunned by European leaders at the Nov. 15-16 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali.”

“Senior Kremlin officials on Wednesday announced that Russian forces were withdrawing from Kherson, a key city in southern Ukraine — the latest in a series of embarrassing military setbacks,” NBC News reports.

Axios: “Kherson was the only provincial capital captured by Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February.”

Daily Beast: “Russian state media is following the midterm elections in the United States with great interest, but the mood in Moscow’s studios had noticeably soured in comparison to the fun-filled episodes of the years preceding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the experts and the hosts are still rooting for the Republicans, they stop short of promising the audience total salvation even with the GOP back in charge.”

“Even the most seasoned propagandists can’t hide the fact that Russia’s war against Ukraine—and the global fallout that followed—is only going from bad to worse.”

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was open to negotiations with Russia if they are focused on safeguarding Ukraine’s territorial integrity, compensating Kyiv and bringing to justice perpetrators of war crimes,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Edward Luce: “What is good for Biden is bad for Donald Trump, whose continued grip on the Republican Party explains its failure to close the sale with voters. By all other measures — Biden’s low approval ratings and voter angst about galloping inflation and rising crime — Republicans should have swept both chambers of Congress and many more state governorships. Prior to Tuesday, incumbent presidents’ parties have lost ground in 36 of the 39 midterm elections to have been held since the American civil war.”

“Biden’s Democrats will still lose control — the House of Representatives will probably change hands, while the Senate remains a toss up. But his party’s ability to stem the losses puts Biden’s midterm performance in the upper ranks among American presidents. He has Trump and the defeats of a series of extreme Trumpian candidates to thank for that. As we have seen before, the anger of America’s voters does not always equate to recklessness.”

“For Biden, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving.”

“Houston Astros fans gathered in the city’s streets on Monday to honor the team’s World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies,” the HuffPost reports. “However, some people seemed more enthusiastic about booing Sen. Ted Cruz than they were about cheering the Astros’ victory.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) got hit with a beer can at the parade for the World Series champion Houston Astros.

“In the most densely populated corner of the US, temperatures are about to drop after a stretch of unusually warm weather. And the signs of a winter crisis are already multiplying,” Bloomberg reports.

“Heating oil delivered to New York is the priciest ever. Retailers in Connecticut are rationing it to prevent panic buying. New England’s stockpiles of diesel and heating oil — the same product, taxed differently — are a third of normal levels. Natural gas inventories are also below average. A Massachusetts-based utility is imploring President Joe Biden to prepare emergency measures to prevent a gas shortage.”

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers group, told a jury on Monday he never ordered members to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and he thought it was “stupid” that some of them decided to enter the building, Reuters reports.

Said Rhodes: “I didn’t want them to get wrapped up in all the nonsense with the Trump supporters around the Capitol. I wanted to keep them out of that. Idle hands are a devil’s playground.”

Washington Post: “Rhodes’s statement of his intentions reinforced key elements of his defense: that there was no order, decision or agreement by him or four co-defendants to prevent by force the swearing-in of President Biden; that members were present in Washington as a “peacekeeping” force providing security to Republican VIPs; and that Rhodes’s goal was to get Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to overturn the presidential election.”

“But in his testimony, Rhodes also implicated other Oath Keepers defendants, and gave U.S. prosecutors wide opening to attack his credibility in cross-examination, which began late Monday morning.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “So what will determine whether democracy withstands these assaults, both small and large? If the rule of law is to survive, it will almost certainly take action from Republicans themselves.”

“The group with the most leverage are Republicans who are largely committed to the values in the Constitution and who have at times stood up to others in their party. That includes everyone from former Vice President Mike Pence to about half the Republicans currently in the Senate to quite a few Republican judges.”

“After this week’s election and in 2024 and beyond, they will need to strongly oppose any efforts to undermine elections in which Republicans fall short and cry fraud. The more Republicans unify around supporting democracy, the more likely they are to succeed in defeating attempts to undermine it.”

“The House select committee investigating January 6 on Monday interviewed the driver of then-President Donald Trump’s presidential vehicle on the day of the US Capitol attack,” CNN reports. The driver “was a key eyewitness to Trump’s behavior in his presidential SUV on the day of the Capitol attack that the panel has been investigating for months.”

Washington Post: “Trump has told his allies that he can’t leave Truth Social, because he’s propping it up, and he doesn’t want a site so closely associated with his brand to collapse.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has sent a handwritten note of apology to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over his comments last month that seemed to make light of the hammer attack against her husband, Paul Pelosi, the Washington Post reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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