Our Best Stuff From a Not-So-Slow News Week
Liz Cheney loses, and we mark the one-year anniversary of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Hello and happy Saturday. It was a milestone week here in the Ohio bureau. On Monday, we dropped our oldest off at Ohio University for his freshman year: an emotional moment for my husband and me, but fairly stereotypical as such things go. I was worried that we weren’t taking enough stuff when his belongings barely filled the back of our SUV, only to get to his dorm and realize that even an oversized quad room fills up very quickly when all of its occupants are assigned several large rucksacks full of ROTC equipment and uniforms. We set up his room, dashed to the store for more clothes hangers and snacks, and then—a little sad we couldn’t sneak in a farewell meal because he was busy filling out paperwork and meeting other cadets—said our goodbyes.
But the too-quiet ride home from Athens with one fewer occupant in the car wasn’t the only thing that made me feel old this week. No, the other instance came on Friday during our editorial meeting when one of our younger staffers made a comment to the effect that this had been perhaps the slowest week in the history of The Dispatch. Wait, what? Now, it’s true that age has the effect of making me forgetful. And slow news weeks are less memorable than weeks with elections, global pandemics hitting home (March 11, 2020, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., in case that wasn’t a “where were you when” moment for you), insurrections, impeachments, chaotic departures from a lost war, etc. So maybe this was the slowest news week we’ve had. But it was by no definition actually slow. I realized that events of the past few years have left an entire generation of young journalists unaware of what a real slow news week looks like.
A truly slow news week involves puff pieces on cultural trends, an overemphasis on rare but shocking events (shark attacks were the big story of 2001, right up until about September 10), and overlong personal essays about summer vacations. This week, there was a fight over whether to release the affidavit that accompanied the search warrant served on former President Trump’s home, a guilty plea on tax evasion charges from an executive at the Trump Organization, and grand jury testimony from Rudy Giuliani in Georgia’s investigation over attempts to overturn the 2020 election. We marked the first anniversary of the withdrawal from Afghanistan with a damning report on the Biden administration’s failures. We learned more about the condition of Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed last Friday before he gave a speech in New York state. There were positive developments for Ukraine in its war against Russia. And of course, there was Liz Cheney’s loss in the Wyoming GOP primary.
Cheney’s defeat by Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman—a former anti-Trumper herself—wasn’t exactly news, in the sense that it was widely expected. Cheney’s impeachment vote, participation on the January 6 committee, and continued vocal opposition to Donald Trump sealed her fate before the first votes were cast. But it was and remains an important story.
Cheney has been the most vocal and active of the small cadre of Republicans still willing to defend the rule of law. She and Adam Kinzinger bring a sense of legitimacy to the January 6 committee, and it can’t be a coincidence that the committee has been far more successful at demonstrating the danger Trump presents than either of his impeachment trials or any other investigation. And this week demonstrated that there is no place for her in today’s Republican party. No place for her, but plenty of room for conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene, Twitter enthusiast Lauren Boebert, the caddish (to put it mildly) Matt Gaetz, the white nationalism-adjacent Paul Gosar, and pretty much anyone else who will claim the 2020 election was stolen. The GOP effectively declared moral bankruptcy on Tuesday, and there are no Chapter 11 fixes for that.
Thanks for reading.
Liz Cheney: ‘There Is Actually Precedent for ... Vice Presidents to Testify’
Cheney was in a pretty chipper mood Wednesday morning for an incumbent who’d just lost a primary election. She sat down with Steve in Jackson, Wyoming, for a conversation that touched on her frustration with Republicans who won’t speak out against Donald Trump, the increased threats against the FBI in the wake of the search warrant served at Mar-a-Lago, the proposition of former Vice President Mike Pence appearing before the January 6 committee, and on her plans for the future. “If a president can ignore the rulings of the courts and can try to overturn an election, and call local officials and pressure them to find votes, send an armed mob to the Capitol—if a president can do all those things and face no legal consequences for it, then it is difficult to say we’re a nation of laws, and that really no one is above the law.” For more on Cheney, read coverage of the Wyoming primary from Steve as well as from Price St. Clair, and don’t miss David’s French Press (🔒) on how Trump has so abused the concepts of loyalty and honor that opponents think of Cheney as a “turncoat.”
Reports emerged recently that the Iranian regime was targeting former Secretary of State MIke Pompeo and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. But the list of Iranian targets is longer than that, as Charlotte reported this week. The Islamic Republic is also targeting former Sen. Joe Lieberman and a number of officials affiliated with United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and at least one other think tank. She spoke with former George W. Bush administration official Mark Wallace, one of the men targeted. ““The threats to Americans are multiple, pervasive, and systematic,” Wallace said. “It’s not a localized event. This is a strategic effort by the Iranians to intimidate, exert their strength—a show of force—because they feel like they can either manage, or deal with, or temper any response.”
A year has passed since the harrowing and chaotic departure from Afghanistan by U.S. forces, but the nightmare is still ongoing for many of those left behind—especially girls and women. In a piece from Charlotte and Audrey marking the anniversary of the fall of Kabul, Naheed Farid, a member of the Afghan legislature for 11 years, shared details about the plight of women under the Taliban. “Afghan women and girls now face a blatant gender apartheid,” Farid said in an interview. “The Taliban have stripped most women of the right to work and education. Young women who grew up in a free and open society are now living in fear.” The piece also looks at efforts from U.S. lawmakers to help those left behind and in peril, and discusses what to expect in terms of hearings and investigations should Republicans take the House in the midterms. “When we take over next year, we’re going to do a review that the Democrats won’t do because they don’t want to embarrass the Biden administration,” Rep. Mike Rogers told The Dispatch. If that doesn’t make you angry enough, check out Haley’s Tuesday edition of Uphill, in which she dives into a newly released congressional report that details the Biden administration’s many failures in carrying out the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Here’s the best of the rest:
Chris Stirewalt explains how and why our political parties have taken a divisive approach to winning elections—by focusing on mobilization instead of persuasion to make up for low turnout, especially in the primaries—and notes that we’re all suffering for it.
In another illustration of just how woeful our primary elections are, Gary Schmitt warns that the GOP has harmed its chances of taking the Senate in November by nominating Trump-endorsed candidates like Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia.
The (questionably named) Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion to fight climate change. Will the investment actually serve to effect much change in reduced emissions or other improvements? Price investigates.
A recent report from Amnesty International engaged in some egregious “both-sidesism,” blaming Ukrainian defense as much as Russian aggression for civilian deaths and ignoring many of Russia’s transgressions. It’s disappointing but unsurprising, as Michael Rubin points out, given Amnesty’s history and evolution.
It’s August, so Scott Lincicome is taking a break from the heavy lift of economic and trade policy analysis to weigh in on something a little lighter in his latest Capitolism (🔒): His crusade against the overuse of exclamation points. We predict you’ll love it! Enjoy!!!
On the pods: Jonah welcomes economist Russ Roberts to discuss his new book, Wild Problems: A Guide to the Decisions That Define Us. In what might be one of David’s favorite Advisory Opinions episodes ever, he and Sarah interviewed historian Bret Devereaux about—I kid you not—orc battle tactics in Lord of the Rings. And on The Dispatch Podcast, Declan talks to Scott Lincicome about the Inflation Reduction Act.