The Lincoln Project Takes a Trip to the Theater

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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153 Responses

  1. PHilip H says:

    Like much having to do with republican politics, the Lincoln Project doesn’t have anything new to offer. They just want a return to status quo ante BEFORE Trump so they can be nice mild mannered capitalist exploiters and racists.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Will this tilt the meter either direction? Probably not.

    But now we have a zero number of “false flag” events.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      In the grand scheme of things, voters gonna vote as they probably were gonna vote.

      But, as someone saturated with the media for both campaigns, Youngkin is landing body blows around McAuliffe’s massive education Gaffe(s) and it’s definitely polling in the suburbs and independents.

      McAuliffe attempted the old “I was quoted out of context” play… but that got turned into another Youngkin ad which lands (though some of those ads are pretty tone-deaf in their own way).

      McAuliffe’s entire campaign at this point (i.e. one day left) is trying to associate Youngkin with Trump. That’s what this play was all about… the fact that it was obviously an Op, a botched Op, (and pretty clearly collaborative) does in fact hurt McAuliffe because a thread that is polling is that Youngkin isn’t really perceived as *that* Trumpy and this ironically reinforces that.

      My gut tells me that NOVA won’t quite push Youngkin over the top, but if Youngkin wins… well, we’ll substitute all of our priors anyway… but still.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Well, I was more thinking about the iterated nature of the game. Somebody does something awful?

        Hey, it wasn’t *OUR* side. It was the Lincoln Project.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

          Sure… the idea of false flags are obviously preposterous. Until we have evidence of one (or many).

          I suppose this falls into the category of was it a false-false-flag seeking to undermine all future trust in the narrative of false flags?Report

        • John Puccio in reply to Jaybird says:

          It seems the only people who consider the LP to be a GOP organization are in the media.

          How convenient for dem ops…

          • Philip H in reply to John Puccio says:

            The four founders were all republican Party Operatives, and the current advisory board contains a number of Republican politician operatives and politicians, including a former RNC chair, the guy who ran MItt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and several former Republican state officials.

            But sure, they aren’t a GOP organization . . .Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

              Here’s the GOP organization’s statement:


              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Lincoln Project launched with two stated objectives. The first was to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box. The second was to ensure Trumpism failed alongside him.

                If they see Youngkin as a Trumpist, then this action is entirely in line with their stated purpose. And as noted below, they sure seem like GOP folks to me.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                Do you see how there is enough wiggle room for someone to see the Lincoln Project’s putting up a false flag White Supremacist event with a non-zero number of democratic operatives in an effort to help McAuliffe’s campaign as a less than perfectly-aligned GOP position?Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Lincoln Project is not trying to align with the current GOP. Again – they have been quite open about this since their founding. They are trying to defeat the Trumpism that they believe has co-opted (willingly) the GOP. This activity – while appearing ill planned and then doubly poorly executed- is still consistent with that view.

                Unless you think them liars . . .Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                I think that this might give some people cover when it comes to the whole “they’re not GOP operatives” position.

                I mean, like, and it not being disingenuous.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

                Sure it give them cover – just like Trump calling anyone who disagrees with him a RINO cover . . . . doesn’t make them any less Republicans however, and sort of reinforces the point that the GOP – as a political party – is an increasingly small portion of “Republicans” in the US.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                Who would have thought that Manicheanism was insufficient to describe the dynamics of the world?

                Anyway, the story seems to be getting away from the whole “these guys are Republican operatives’ thing.


            • Marchmaine in reply to Philip H says:

              I’m not sure if you’re trying do damn the Republican Party with faint praise or what, but:


            • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

              The LP only supports democrats. The LP is entirely funded by democrats.

              But sure, they’re a GOP organization … because they say they are … LOLReport

              • Philip H in reply to John Puccio says:

                Michael Steele is a Republican and former RNC chair. George Conway is a Republican whose wife worked for President Trump. Rick Wilson is a conservative and former Republican. John Weaver managed John Kaisich’s 2016 campaign. Jennifer Horn is a Republican. Kurt Bardella – Republican. Susan Del Pracio – Republican. Windsor Mann – Bulwark author and Republican. Stuart Stevens – Romney Campaign manager and Republican. Jeff Timmer – former Michigan state GOP Executive Director. Sure seem like a bunch of Republicans to me.

                They support moderate/centerist Democrats because they want to defeat Trump and Trumpism, and as the GOP seems to have thrown all in with Trumpism they have made the best choice they can. I see no reason to disbelieve them.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

                George Conway (since has left the organization)
                Steve Schmidt (since has left the organization)
                Jennifer Horn (since has left the organization)
                Ron Steslow (since has left the organization)
                Mike Madrid (since has left the organization)

                The LP sounded plausible when it was formed. Never Trump was a real thing. But Trump is gone and since the PAC exclusively supports dems now, any pretense that this is (if it ever was) a “GOP” operation is just willful ignorance.

                Don’t listen to what they say, just look at what they do and who funds it…

                Walks like a duck, sounds like a duck …Report

              • Philip H in reply to John Puccio says:

                Most of the people I listed are still advising the group. And are still Republicans, or so they think.

                Trump is not gone – he’s just not serving in office. And any of the Republicans who want win in the midterms have thrown in with him – which means that the LP’s interest in defeating Trumpism is not served by supporting such people.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                A point for you to consider:

                When I was 18 years old, I registered to vote as a Democrat.

                I have never changed my registration. (I even wrote a fun post (if I do say so myself) about going to the 2016 caucus!)

                But if someone said that I wasn’t a Democrat, I’d understand where they were coming from.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

                Aside from the axe-to-grind crew (if I were Steele or worked for Mitt, I’d be pissed too), the LP Advisory Board boasts conservative stalwarts Like Molly Jong Fast (of the Daily Beast) and Rachel Bitecofer (who “launched a liberal super PAC named Strike Pac, which she describes as “a war machine for the Left.”

                You can see why conservatives concerned about the direction of the GOP would align themselves with such folk. The only way to save the party is to elect progressives!Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Philip H says:

                I get spending against Trump. Sure.

                Which got me to wonder, “have they supported a single ‘moderate’ Republican anywhere?”

                A Republican operation would support moderate/centrist Republicans to defeat Trumpism… But the Lincoln project has not funded a single Republican candidate anywhere. Only Democrats and one Independent. I mean, the second most money they spent AGAINST a candidate was Susan Collins (the most was Lindsay Graham). Which doesn’t really seem to speak to their bona fides about moderating the Republican party.

                And that’s fine… but that’s just being a Moderate/Centrist Democrat.


              • Philip H in reply to Marchmaine says:

                There are no “moderate Republicans” for them to support. They are all retiring because they believe – and probably correctly – that they can’t survive a primary from the right. Its why Adam Kiszinger (who is DEFINITELY a Republican) isn’t running for reelection. Liz Cheney doen’t need anyones money. There’s little else left.

                Oh, and Pro tip – Graham has thrown in full throated with Trump. and quite publicly. Not gonna get the anti-Trump republican support with that.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Philip H says:

                Re Graham, yes, I was just disclosing who was #1 to Collin’s #2.

                Well, in 2022 are you anticipating that these Republicans will be supporting primary challengers to Trumpy R’s? As key Republican Operatives and former RNC chairman, they must have a network of possible contenders?

                I don’t think they will… but I’d be fine to wager a fine Milk Stout over the matter.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

                The fact that blue Virginia is so close at this point indicates that Youngkin is a moderate Republican. The kind of candidate the LP should support, not try and destroy.

                It’s interesting looking at LP’s twitter feed the last month. It seems they were more focused on trolling Trump on the fact that Youngkin wanted nothing to do with him. Then the race got close and now he’s just like Trump. Funny how that happened.Report

              • Philip H in reply to John Puccio says:

                Youngkin has – repeatedly – disclosed how honored he is to have Trump’s endorsement. One doesn’t do that if one is a moderate Republican, at least not in good conscience. and IF one were a moderate Republican and did that I’d expect to see him trolled by the LP because it’s not a consistent position. You are either Team Trump or you aren’t.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

                That sounds like a George W Bush quote.

                It’s almost as if a politician running for office never attempted to walk a fine line on a wedge issue.Report

              • North in reply to John Puccio says:

                It’s, of course, impossible to read what is in anyone’s heart, let alone Youngkins’ but he is unambigously a Trump supporter in word and deed. That is the dilemma the GOP and the right face in general. They could, in theory, rid themselves of Trump but the longer they wait to try and do so the longer and the deeper the political cost will be for them doing so.

                When Trump first ran it would have just cost some of their Presidential candidates their shot at the nod. They all held off, of course, because they all wanted their shot. When Trump became the only candidate standing they could have stopped him but it most likely would have cost them the Presidential election that year, so they didn’t. As President they could have opposed or dethroned him but it’d assuredly have cost them dearly in seats and electoral prospects for at least a cycle so they demurred.

                But Trumpism isn’t going anywhere and the cost keeps ratchetting up.Report

              • Philip H in reply to North says:

                But Trumpism isn’t going anywhere and the cost keeps ratchetting up.

                Exactly. And because of this on the ground Fact, the LP supports centerist democrats, when it supports candidates, because that’s what’s left that’s closest to their moderate Republican roots.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me!”Report

      • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

        We went for a visit to Purcellville the weekend before last. There was some kind of issue on 495 and/or the Greenway so the GPS sent us on back roads through upper Loudon. We saw signs everywhere, both Younkin and McAuliffe. Notable since I don’t recall seeing Trump signs out there much at all. Seems like there’s an actual election.

        Of course we also saw a giant confederate flag and banner saying ‘Fuck Biden’ on the Maryland side at Point of Rocks so who knows if it means anything.Report

  3. John Puccio says:

    The McAuliffe campaign denounced it and denied any coordination with the group SIX HOURS after they shared it with the world claiming this was ‘disqualifying’.

    This wasn’t performance art attempting to raise awareness. It was an immoral attempt to influence an election result.

    Perhaps it was coordinated by the LP. Perhaps not. The only thing we do know for sure is that the people posing as “racist republicans” were actually democrats.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    And the Bee says “You want to do a callback? Let’s do a callback.”


  5. Slade the Leveller says:

    All due respect to the author, but this is a brilliant bit of political theater, in my opinion. It’ll take a long time for the Republican Party to wash the stench of Trump out of its hair, and as near as this non-VA resident can tell, Youngkin’s efforts to disassociate himself from 45 have been half-hearted at best. It may not address the issues salient to VA voters, but it made a great show. How anyone could see this as anything other than a stunt is beyond me.

    Would it have been better if The Lincoln Project had not sponsored it?Report

  6. KenB says:

    “Camden Layton, the finance director for Virginia Young Democrats, and Colleen Wachenfeld, who is associated with Virginia Democrats, both appeared to be pictured in the five-person group clad in caps and white shirts. Shortly after Twitter users noted Layton and Wachenfeld’s resemblance to the mysterious torch holders, they both made their social media accounts private.” (source)Report

    • Koz in reply to KenB says:

      “Camden Layton, the finance director for Virginia Young Democrats, and Colleen Wachenfeld, who is associated with Virginia Democrats, both appeared to be pictured in the five-person group clad in caps and white shirts. Shortly after Twitter users noted Layton and Wachenfeld’s resemblance to the mysterious torch holders, they both made their social media accounts private.”

      Lol, imagine sending out a woman, a black guy, and three white dudes out to impersonate white supremacists. I wonder whose idea this was, maybe it was theirs but I doubt it. At least one of them should sue the Democrats. At least they could get a clean conscience out of the deal.Report

  7. I get that they’re cribbing from the Project Veritas playbook, but where was the boat full of dildos?Report

  8. North says:

    This seems very like the Lincoln Project.

    They bring the “it’s good if it trolls our foes and draws attention and dollars to us from those who are not our foes” attitude that they grew up on.

    It doesn’t, however, seem to tell us much of anything about anyone (left or right) except for the Lincoln Project.Report

    • KenB in reply to North says:

      I wouldn’t consider it representative of D or R but it does seem to go beyond the LP specifically. There are a small number of folks on all sides who are tempted into these shenanigans “for the greater good.”Report

    • Koz in reply to North says:

      This seems very like the Lincoln Project.

      You’re probably aware, but most of the Right seems to think this _wasn’t_ the Lincoln Project, that they’re trying to jump on the grenade in service to the Democrats.

      Frankly, at this point I don’t think it matters. Youngkin is going to win. I wouldn’t have believed it two or three weeks ago, but I’m sure of it now. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he wins by 5+ points.

      It’s not just that the Macker campaign is desperate, and that Youngkin is surging in the polls. But this latest incident is going to leave a mark. I don’t think the ex-GOP NoVa white collar libs are going to like having their emotional buttons being pushed in the service of a lie, ie basically what the OP is about.Report

      • Philip H in reply to Koz says:

        And how big did you think Trump’s win would be over Biden again?Report

      • InMD in reply to Koz says:

        I accidentally reported Koz’s comment due to my own incompetent scrolling. It was not intended and my apologies.Report

        • KenB in reply to InMD says:

          I do this a lot — the Report button often ends up right under my thumb as I’m scrolling, and sometimes it ends up being a press instead of a swipe. Not sure if the notifications say who made the report, but the OT admins should feel free to ignore any that come from me.Report

      • North in reply to Koz says:

        The right is quite prone to this kind of conspiracy nonsense. It tells us a lot about the general state of mind of the right. The whole operation fits the LP’s modus operandi, I don’t see any reason to complicate it with some idea that they’re somehow providing “cover” for someone else.

        VA looks too close to call right now. I’ve not been impressed with McAuliffe’s campaigning and, certainly, the national environment isn’t good for him at the moment. We’ll see soon enough who pulls it out. I don’t think either side winning will be indicative of much outside Virginia (except maybe that CRT remains an electoral loser outside the hothouse environs of twitter).Report

        • Jaybird in reply to North says:

          You’d think “this was a false flag” would be a good enough conspiracy theory for anybody.Report

        • Koz in reply to North says:

          I dunno, it doesn’t seem like conspiracy nonsense to me. The people they identified were staffer-level people with ties to the institutional Democratic party. Lincoln Project are rogue Republicans.

          Lincoln Project is primarily about scam fundraising and Left agitprop on cable news and social media. If they’re into guerilla theater as well, it would be a first AFAIK.

          No, I think the Demos did this, especially because it was intended to reinforce the McAuliffe campaign themes.Report

          • North in reply to Koz says:

            Uh huh, Democratic operatives did something bone headed like that and then a rogue republican group provided cover? That seems plenty conspiratorial to me. Not that it’s particularly significant either way- it’s mostly inside baseball.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to North says:

              I just don’t think there’s any space between ‘rogue republican group’ and ‘democrats’ anymore.

              So it’s just saying that Democrats planted a false flag operation with plausible deniability back to the actual campaign… whose media ops were ready to capture and amplify the event — but not sufficiently curious to interview or talk to the racists.

              Which is just how politics and non-profit pacs operate these days. Its supposed to be the sort of thing that NON-cospirationalists are supposed to expose and condemn. We don’t want False Flag Ops on any side.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Insufficient curiosity on the part of journalists is one of many reasons that journalists have classified “learn to code” as hate speech.Report

              • North in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Well in my own cosmology rogue republican groups primarily operate to rake in money and get attention (read, draw money)( to sustain themselves. Democrats primarily operate to, well, elect Democrats.

                The premise that Democratic political operatives purposefully set out to launch a false flag operation with the LP providing cover and that they also used people to do it that are patently and obviously trackable back to Democratic organizations strikes me as somewhat… conspiratorial minded. Definitely smacks of tin-foil hat wearing. Whereas Hanlons razor very succinctly explains how this came about without any conspiracy being needed at all. A bunch of people loosely associated with the LP participated in a stupid bit of political theater without thinking it through because they were behaving stupidly.Report

              • Philip H in reply to North says:

                never ascribe to malice that which can be attributed to incompetence.Report

              • North in reply to Philip H says:

                Indeed, Hanlon’s Razor.Report

            • Koz in reply to North says:

              Uh huh, Democratic operatives did something bone headed like that and then a rogue republican group provided cover?

              No North, we know the Demo operatives did it because they were the ones identified at the scene. The Lincoln Project supposedly funded/organized/claimed credit for it after the fact. The “conspiracy” is that we don’t necessarily believe them.Report

              • North in reply to Koz says:

                We know some people who also work with Democratic organizations were participating. That is undisputed. And how can you fund or organize something post hoc?

                The conspiracy is trying to build the phenomena of a few people being dumb into something larger when the simple answer of “they were doing something dumb” is more than adequate to explain it.Report

              • Koz in reply to North says:

                Forgive me, I combined a couple things. The LP claimed credit after the fact. Whether they funded and organized it is the matter of dispute.

                As far as the “conspiracy” goes, I think you’re out to lunch on that one. The nature of the incident is not something you do on a spur-of-the-moment lark. Among other things, we know they are Demo staffers, and we know they coordinated. It’s not a conspiracy to ask on who’s say-so they coordinated.Report

              • North in reply to Koz says:

                Quite all right, no worries.

                So basically we have two scenarios:
                A- The Lincoln Project organized and funded this particular tin eared event, recruited a grab bag of willing participants some of whom are visible Democratic organization staffers and then claimed credit for it.

                B- Another group, right wingers generally imply McAuliffe’s campaign, organized this event using an assortment of people including their own staffers and, when it proved to be poorly received they called up the Lincoln Project and said “Hey can you take credit/blame for this because for some reason we think that’ll help us?” and the LP said “Sure!” And then they covered it all up.

                Now I think scenario A is simpler and more likely. First it fits all the observed facts and second it doesn’t require that groups of people keep everything secret which big people aren’t wont to do. Scenario B seems dubious for a couple of reasons:
                -If the LP didn’t actually organize it then pretending they did would be pretty difficult to pull off.
                -Assigning credit/blame to the LP for it is of pretty dubious usefulness and also hard to do on the fly
                -If you were organizing something like this with a plan to have the LP bail you out then why the heck would you use people who’re easily tracible back to you? That’s why I think scenario B is more conspiratorial and less likely.

                All that said I reiterate what we’re virtually inside the dugout of inside baseball at this point too.Report

  9. Saul Degraw says:

    1. Youngkin is a not as anti-Trump as everyone would seemingly want him to believe;

    2. He seemed to be doing well when he was able to talk vaguely about education and might still win tomorrow but I think he gave away the ghost when he went of the rails on Beloved.

    3. Trump is still very much in control of the GOP and is presuming he is still relatively coherent and/or not dead, he is almost certainly going to be the nominee in 2024. The threat to American democracy is far from over. Yet too many people want to be complacent, are stuck with visions of 1990s triangulation working forever, and/or just can’t bring themselves to get over their issues with liberals, progressives, and Democrats in order to save democracy. Trump and fascism might be bad but democrats and liberals have cooties.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Adding to this…
      Around here we like to do the barstool sports thing of critiquing political campaigns in terms of savvy or whatever, but the big thing that gets lost often is that Trumpian authoritarianism, racism and misogyny is popular with Americans- like really, really popular.

      I wish it wasn’t so, but it is and we need to see that as the reality we are living in.Report

      • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        If Younkin wins it will have nothing to do with any of that. It’ll be because, whatever he is on policy, he lacks the total yuck factor Trump has on nominally liberal suburban women who are already annoyed about left-wing idiocy undermining the quality of the local school systems. At least that’s how it looks from over the river and sharing a media market with the major swing districts.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

          I agree, that’s my point.

          There are millions of Amercans who will happily vote for a Trumpist who has better manners. And this has been true throughout most of our history.Report

          • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I like how you focused on the manners and ignored the part about quality of public services, and how undermining them tends to dampen support from constituencies that should lean blue. But hey I guess we can bank on the VP of HR vote. Maybe it’ll be enough.Report

            • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

              As you well know there are a lot of VPs of HR in NOVA.

              That aside – which party has overseen drastic tax cuts undermining public services?Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:

          This seems like a lot of wish-casting and no offense, I think there is a good bit “damn kids” doing it wrong edge about you when it comes to Millennials and zoomers having different opinions on priorities for left politics.

          I admit though that there is an issue which is hard for Democrats and Youngkin might have been able to exploit that weakness. The issue is how do you increase educational outcomes for black and hispanic kids while not stepping on the landmines of liberals who like the status quo or at least benefit from it in some way or another. But Youngkin gave away his ghost last week with the cries against beloved by Toni Morrison. Maybe he did this too late but I think it shows true colors.Report

          • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            My view is that we need to stop creating openings on things that substantively don’t work and don’t make sense. And yea, to your second comment, there are probably still forces on the right that see the CRT stuff as step one to going after anything they see as an affront to their narrow views of patriotism or religion or whatever. Younkin may well be one of them. The point is that it is not a fight we should be having at all yet it is very much a fight parts of team blue have picked.Report

            • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

              The point is that it is not a fight we should be having at all yet it is very much a fight parts of team blue have picked.

              Far too many people – even here at OT – try to pick the “Fight We Should Be Having (c)” as opposed to the fight we are having. Because its easy. Its comfortable. Its what they believe gets them their goal. Which is what the Right is doing with CRT. Team Blue didn’t pick that fight, but it has to respond tot hose who did, because team red is using that fight (and several other aligned fights) to try and consolidate power permanently.Report

              • InMD in reply to Philip H says:

                You’re just wrong on this. There’s absolutely no pedagogical reason to include this stuff in k-12 education and it’s absolutely a left-leaning faction that’s put it there. Right-leaning factions were doing the same kind of thing with intelligent design and abstinence only sex ed 20 years ago.Report

              • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

                CRT is NOT in any k-12 educational curriculum in the public schools anywhere in the US, unless teaching accurate history (which, yes is not pretty in the least) is now vertoten. CRT is an area of law school level/graduate school academic study.

                And shreiking about it being in schools is a team red thing bro.Report

              • InMD in reply to Philip H says:

                Heh, whatever you say, ‘bro.’Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

                You can parse the definition of CRT all you want, whatever you call *this* seems to be wildly unpopular with the American public. Insisting *this* doesn’t exist isn’t helping your team.


              • Philip H in reply to John Puccio says:

                Until Republicans decided to use CRT as a wedge issue – since they are bereft of actual policy proposals these days – most Americans had no care about any of this being done in schools or businesses. Yes, some of the corporate level trainings on this were and are eyeball pokingly bad. and some of the school curricula were and probably are as well. Bu there’s nothing in that pdf that was inherently a subject of ire beyond a few myopic and power hungry people.

                You see, the big whole in your theory is the even in Texas – where this stuff is NOT being taught – school boards are being overrun and assaulted for teaching CRT. In Texas. That’s not about the actual curricula. That’s about ginning up emotion for political gain.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                Phil, you should go down to the bottom of the page and read what Saul said about running against Trump.

                It explains the dynamic pretty well.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H says:

                If you want to know what CRT is, look at the books they want to ban: Beloved, or the story about Ruby Bridges.

                Anything that might make white people feel uncomfortable, in other words.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “And to Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street”

                Ah, happy sigh.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t know about the second one, but Beloved does have some explicit passages. And Youngkin has never talked about banning it. But wasn’t I hearing that CRT had nothing to do with K-12 education?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                So now “CRT” is anything with “explicit passages”.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You’re the one who associated the complaints against Beloved with CRT. You built the bridge, I just crossed it. I’ve never read the book, but it seems to have plenty of passages that would be R-rated, X-rated, or illegal to produce or distribute.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                No, the Republicans have explicitly placed Beloved on the list of books banned under the rhetoric of fighting CRT.
                Google it.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I did google it, and didn’t find any. I found a couple of WaPo articles that made the claim, and I watched the Youngkin ad but that didn’t talk about CRT. makes reference to earlier debate but not CRT related. I don’t see anything supporting your claim. I’m not trying to be confrontational or troll-like, I just don’t see it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                So you agree Youngkin wants to ban the book, but are arguing that it isn’t connected to the general CRT hysteria? That seems…implausible.

                Ok here’s a list of 850 books that Texas Republicans want to ban.


                The common denominator is anything culture war related like race or LGBTQ.

                By the way if someone can find Bari Weiss’ fiery denunciation of this radical infringement of free speech I would be obliged. I couldn’t find it.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                1) I didn’t say that Youngkin wants to ban the book, and I don’t see any evidence to that effect.
                2) Huh? You’re granting that the Texas Republicans want to ban things that aren’t related to CRT? Doesn’t that undo your whole argument?
                3) Uh-oh. Are you one of those people who criticizes Bari Weiss? Saul told me there’s something bad about such people.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                1. Youngkin’s ad sympathetically showcased the mother who wanted to ban Beloved. He owns that.
                2. I am explicitly saying that the Republicans want to ban things that have nothing to do with CRT. Because they just use CRT as a pretext to ban anything they don’t like.
                3. Bari Weiss is a grifter, one of those comfortable white people who enjoy the moral sheen of liberalism, but are reactionary to the core.Report

              • KenB in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “Because they just use CRT as a pretext to ban anything they don’t like.”

                No, CRT is being used as an umbrella term for what on the left is usually referred to as “anti-racist” content, the Kendi/DiAngelo white guilt stuff. It’s just that there are people (even some at this blog) who react simplistically to the nice-sounding label (“well who wouldn’t want to be against racism?”), so the right needed a scarier label. Cf “pro-life” vs “anti-abortion”.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                2. To clarify, I meant that your position that Republicans do in fact ban things based on claims about the sexual content undermines your position that Republicans complaints about Beloved must necessarily relate to claims about race.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Philip H says:

                Republicans pounce!

                There is no hole in my theory. It’s not even a theory. It’s a plain as day observation.

                Equity/CRT is a wedge issue that the GOP has certainly exploited to their advantage. (why wouldn’t they?) But there are too many real life examples of the clumsy and embarrassing execution of the concepts in this PDF (and other materials, corporate or otherwise), to create such a natural, negative reaction in the public.

                You can argue that it is rare (I don’t think either of know how common or uncommon the flashpoint examples are) but this insistence that *this* isn’t actually happening comes across as gas lighting to anyone who has a kid or grandchild who comes home with “race education” homework and is unhappy about it.
                Perception is reality.

                Win or lose today, McAulliff is demonstrating, in real time, how costly the “denial” strategy is for democrats.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

                If CRT didn’t exist at some recent point in the past, and it does exist now, then it’s something new. Which side of the aisle do you think has promoted it? If the left side, then how can you say that Team Blue didn’t pick the fight?

                Second question: would you disagree with Chip’s assertion or implication that the promotion of a book like Beloved is in line with CRT? If so, wouldn’t you agree that CRT has influenced K-12 education?Report

              • Philip H in reply to Pinky says:

                CRT surfaced in law schools and university academic departments in the 1970’s. Given that I surfaced in the 1970’s and I’m now 50 I don’t consider CRT to be new. No one promoted it outside academia until this year, when Team Red started to see it everywhere.

                The analysis of Beloved is not tied to CRT because CRT is an examination of systems through a racial lens. Beloved can be and has been taught for years in high school literature classes as classic modern American literature. It is true that Beloved describes the situation of modern Black Americans rather well, as does CRT. But that’s a tenuous link and shows (at best) correlation – which is not generally causation.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

                No one promoted it anywhere? There have been a lot of race-related training in the workplace that relied on CRT. As for K-12, I’m sure we both recognize that social theories can build steam in universities and filter down over time. I’ve never seen a K-12 curriculum that referred specifically to CRT, but its underlying suppositions have become more common. You and I don’t see the connection between CRT and Beloved, although Chip does, and we’re digging into that downthread.

                ETA: upthread. I lost my place.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                But see now if you are going to argue that CRT is latent everywhere, you need to show you’re work as to why it’s bad. Otherwise CRT is like pornography, you know it when you see it, entirely arbitrary and a cover for “anything I don’t like.”

                Pick an example of K-12 curriculum and tell us why it shouldn’t be taught.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’m trying to respond to a few different and contradictory claims being made. I don’t know if I’ve contradicted myself in doing so, but I’m sorry if I have. My belief is that anything opposed to our national goal of racial equality shouldn’t be taught in public schools, and I’d include CRT on that list. I also don’t think that obscene material should be in our schools. It’s my understanding that a person who wanted her child to be able to opt out of Beloved has been in an ad against McAuliffe, but that none of this is related to CRT, and Youngkin hasn’t spoken out about banning that particular book. As I said, I haven’t read Beloved, but it sounds like it has objectionable sexual / violent content.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                Give some examples, though.
                Like if a history textbook featured stories from the Tulsa Massacre, or stories about Jim Crow Lynchings, would they qualify as “CRT”?

                If they showed how Jim Crow wasn’t any One Thing, but was an overlapping set of laws and regulations and social norms which combined to create a systemic structure of oppression, would that be verboten?

                It seems like the abstract rhetoric of anti-CRT always just means, “Don’t tell the truth because I’m uncomfortable with that.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Most of the examples that I have to offer aren’t CRT, which is an obscure legal theory from the 1970s which would be inappropriate to teach in school, but bad DEI.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Someone posted the six principles of CRT recently. I’d say that anything that adheres to those principles should be included. CRT isn’t a set of facts, it’s a system of analysis, and it’s possible that a lesson about the Tulsa Massacre could be fine or objectionable.

                I don’t know any specifics about the following story, whether it was the product of a parent’s imagination, whether it was the product of a child’s misinterpretation, but I’m going to link to it just because I remember seeing it yesterday, and I’d hope we can both agree that if accurate it represents a problem:


              • Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

                That’s not CRT, Pinky. That’s bad DEI.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

                Pinky doesn’t see those as different.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Philip H says:

                It’s true that I wouldn’t know how to distinguish CRT and bad DEI.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                We’d best hope that Pinky is unique, or unique enough to not matter.

                If bad DEI gets smooshed together with CRT, then that’ll make the people who argue that CRT isn’t infiltrating schools or corporations sound like they’re gaslighting other people.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

                It’s just a tactic to avoid discussing the issue on the merits.Report

              • Pinky in reply to InMD says:

                Excuse me?Report

              • InMD in reply to Pinky says:

                Sorry, what Jaybird’s describing in his second sentence. The ‘it isn’t really CRT’ line of argument is IMO a diversion to avoid talking about the actual concepts making it into education, whatever we want to label them.Report

              • InMD in reply to InMD says:

                Edit to add, I’m agreeing with you.Report

              • Pinky in reply to InMD says:

                I was a jerk for getting defensive, anyway.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

                First, is this story plausible?
                That in a Virginia school, where something like 90% of the teachers are white, that somehow the girl was told she was “born evil”?

                I think it’s bullcrap, a just-so fairytale unless there is some corroboration.Report

              • KenB in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                So just to clarify, you agree that this is not a good thing *if true*?

                I mean the usual progression is:
                1) it’s not true
                2) ok so it has happened maybe once but it’s very rare
                3) ok so it happens a bunch, what’s so bad about it anyway?

                If we’re going end up at step 3 anyway, no reason to worry about how accurate that particular story is.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to KenB says:

                Is it wrong to teach children that white people are evil?
                Well that’s a stumper, I may think for a second um yeah it’s bad!

                I’d really like know if this has actually happened, anywhere.

                And fer Chrissake, I hope that “white people are evil” doesn’t just turn out to be an historically accurate thing makes white people uncomfortable.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I think there’s a couple of elements on this and none of them speak well for the left on the subject.

                First off, who the heck are we trying to fool with the coy dance of “hur de dur what is CRT? Is it really in the schools/academies/media/everywhere?” I mean who the hell are we trying to fool here. No one is falling for it. Sure, the right cherry picks and exaggerates the worst parts of it but they aren’t fabricating this stuff from nothing. We can go out and find all kinds of examples of left-wing institutions and people making absolutely knuckle headed CRT fishups. The Smithsonian “punctuality and hard work are white cultural tropes” posters for instance!?? Why is it that so often the CRT or DEI stuff sounds like it was written by the fishin Klan?!?!

                Second off, when looking at Virginia in particular and the whole teaching foofaraw the obvious questions arises: Why couldn’t the Governor just go with the normal anodyne comment towards the CRT stuff Youngkin is bringing up: “While diversity and inclusion are important; those seem like anomalous examples, I don’t support them, no one supports them and of course parents should feel free to push hard for school boards to police that kind of language. Every parent should be fully involved in and committed to their childs education. It helps the tykes thrive.”

                Why can’t he go with this? Why is there a twitter, media and campaign staff culture that says that simply throwing this stuff under the bus is unacceptable and/or racist? The doublespeak on this is infuriating. If CRT/DEI is not a thing then why can’t Democratic candidates chuck it under the bus and diffuse it as a weapon against them? Or if CRT/DEI IS a thing and is important and sacrosanct then why can’t it be debated and brought up without its interlocutors suddenly reversing course and pretending it doesn’t exist?Report

              • InMD in reply to North says:

                As I suggested in my first comment way back up, but for this, the gubernatorial race in VA probably isn’t particularly competitive. People live there for the quality of life which includes good public educstion. The biggest advantages Democrats have is that they actually believe in investing in a forward-looking civil and economic infrastructure. The worst thing to do is to make that stuff look like a front for a bunch of weird ideological projects.Report

              • North in reply to InMD says:

                As usual you and I agree on this matter. I think (but don’t know) that we also are more indicative of the actual voting masses of people on the left. The disconnect is that the party elites, media elites, corporate elites, really all the elites seem to be invested in (or afraid to be seen to not be invested in) this ideology that doesn’t actually have much cachet with the voters. I am worried that it’s a nascent version of the yawning divide that separates the rights’ elites (Republitarianism ) from their voting masses (populism, nativism, religious issues).Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to North says:

                This about sums it up.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                Then maybe focus on stuff that really is indefensible instead of being stampeded like a bunch of terrified sheep.

                If that’s what a poster says at the Smithsonian, then I’m fine with taking it down.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Umm the whole point is they’re not just tossing this stuff and seem to think they can’t. Why is that? Is that not significant?

                Regarding the poster:

                And yes it got pulled, but again the question rears its head: why the fish are we indulging the mental state that is so up its own posterior that this crap is considered not merely acceptable but desirable? Why is the identarian left a literal factory conveyor belt of voter enraging issues for the right to use? Do they want Trump? Actually we both know the answer to the last one- of course they’d prefer Trump.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                “If it says that, then pull it down”

                *They pull it down.*

                “Ah, nevertheless I’m still outraged!”

                I mean, really- who is this “we” that is accepting this, and why should Toni Morrison’s Beloved get dragged into it, or the 850 other books the Republicans want to ban?

                This has all the hallmarks of a moral panic- “XYZ is happening! Its happening ALL OVERF! Including your child’s school! Oh, won’t someone think of the children?”

                Moral panics take two parties- One to snap at the heels, and the sheep who run in a blind terror.

                And speaking of conveyor belt of outrages- you have been reading the papers the last 5 years, correct?
                Do you see Republicans racing around in a panic?
                Why is that?Report

              • Pinky in reply to North says:

                You watch people paint themselves into a corner, then crawl into a box, then close the box, then you hear them nailing the box shut from the inside, and you shout at them, “no, no, you’ve had a terrible series of accidents”.

                And I think it’s possible that some of them have made a series of accidents, not seeing where it was going, and so distrustful of you that as long as you’re shouting at them they’re sure they’re in the right.

                Others want to be in the box.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to InMD says:

          I don’t know if I fully agree with twenty-somethings on the left about political issues and sometimes I think that the strident anger and energy of twitter discourse is a bit too much and also not reflective of the median voter. But the fact that Bari Weiss can make six figures by marketing herself to guys that get worried about the woke coming for them is a sign of decadence. It is revealing to me that it is a freak out about a much more diverse generation and one where being a white guy does not automatically put you at the center of the world.Report

  10. Chip Daniels says:

    I have to chuckle at the implication here. “How DARE you accuse the Republicans of being supported by white supremacists, sir, how dare you!”Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Do you understand why people criticized Jussie Smollett?

      Or do you see the people who criticized Jussie as being people who disagreed with the proposition he was arguing?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:

        Do you understand the people who criticize Bari Weiss? Andrew Sullivan? Glenn Greewald? Stephen Miller?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Oh, indeed I do! You’d be surprised how many of them are anti-Semitic or homophobes.

          I mean, it’s one thing to say “you’re wrong and here’s why”, it’s quite another to say “I guess AIDS dementia wasn’t a myth!”

          It’s quite irritating, too. I mean, there are *GOOD* criticisms to be made. Going out of your way to make bad criticisms probably feels good (and does a good job of signaling ingroup solidarity) but it’s no way to change a mind.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Didn’t you just criticize Bari Weiss?Report

  11. Saul Degraw says:

    The whole frame of the media right now is that Biden is a failure because he hasn’t fixed everything Trump and company ruined and his approval rating is under 60 percent. The same media would state that Trump was getting popular everytime his approval rating inched above 40 percent.

    There is something weird in America where we treat the President as bronze age god kings and people follow.Report

  12. Saul Degraw says:

    “First, consider the question of whether McAuliffe focused too much on Trump. Those who say it was the brunt, if not the entirety, of his offensive against the Republican opposition are not exaggerating. But what else was he supposed to run on? The popularity of Joe Biden? The lightning-fast rate of legislative accomplishment in Congress? And while Biden is an anchor on McAuliffe right now—and the more pertinent one, given that he’s presently in charge—it’s not like Trump has suddenly become popular in Virginia, either. The Roanoke poll had Trump’s favorability in the state at 37 percent, compared with 54 percent unfavorable; the Washington Post poll found that Trump’s (repeated) endorsement of Youngkin made 9 percent of voters more likely to support Youngkin, compared with 37 percent who would be less likely. Not a bad, dominant figure in our societal landscape to tie your opponent to. Dislike of Trump is also one of the few, in-your-face items that has near-unanimous support among Virginia Democrats, who otherwise may not all be on the same policy page.”