Our Best Stuff From a Week Georgia Was on Our Minds. Again.
Plus: a U.S. diplomat visits Taiwan, Eric Greitens is attempting a comeback, and an anti-Trump Republican is trying to win a congressional election in Texas.
|Rachael Larimore||Apr 3||49||101|
Is it me, or has Georgia become the center of the universe since last November? A quick review: The state went blue, President Trump demanded recounts and then bullied state election officials in phone calls, and then all the talk about election fraud helped contribute to the Republicans losing not one but two Senate seats in special elections, leaving the Democrats in charge of Congress. Did I miss anything?
Georgia’s state legislature recently passed an election reform bill that has drawn the ire of the left, which is calling it a voter suppression bill. The biggest talking point is that it’s a return to an era of Jim Crow, a term that even President Biden used. And the talking points worked. Coca-Cola and Delta, both of which are headquartered in Georgia, put out statements condemning the bill, and Major League Baseball announced late Friday afternoon that it was removing this summer’s All-Star Game from the state. In response, conservative politicians have threatened legislative actions against both Delta and MLB. It’s a vicious cycle.
I don’t mention this to get into a big analysis of the bill—I’ve included a summary of our coverage below, and it’s a good look at how the bill is in many ways more innocuous than Democrats have framed it. I mention it because one of my colleagues made an excellent point last night and I think it’s worth expanding on. Here’s Declan:
Yes, by all means. Everyone—on both sides—needs to take a deep breath and get some fresh air. As Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling pointed out on CNN, a group founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams bought the domain StopJimCrow2.com weeks before the legislation passed. It didn’t matter what was going to be in the bill, the messaging was already set.
Just last week, more than a few people on the right (including Jonah!) criticized Elizabeth Warren for tweeting at Amazon that she would “fight to break up Big Tech so you’re not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets.” Is it really any different when Ted Cruz threatens to go after MLB’s antitrust exemption?
Politics has permeated every aspect of our culture. David French makes this point a lot when discussing our polarization. Democrats and Republicans don’t read the same books or watch the same TV shows. In some cases, they don’t even shop at the same stores. But they do pressure corporations to fall in line politically—or else. And it happens on both sides. When NFL players started kneeling for the national anthem to protest police brutality, many conservatives said they would no longer watch the sport. Vice President Mike Pence made a big show out of leaving an Indianapolis Colts game in 2017 after players knelt. Declan’s tweet above highlights that some conservatives are now adding baseball to the list of sports they aren’t watching.
None of this is healthy. I know, I know. The Dispatch is a publication that covers … politics (among other things). Is it weird for me to tell you not to get so worked up about politics? Yes, and no. We all care about politics and government, or we wouldn’t have made this our life’s work. But toning things down is actually part of our mission. That’s why we send you The Morning Dispatch everyday. It’s a concise roundup of the news, with focus on a few stories that you should know about to get through your day. We publish a few articles every morning, and that’s it. You don’t have to come back six times a day to get our take on whether it was Major or Champ who pooped in the White House. We don’t live-tweet White House press briefings. When we write about Georgia’s election law, we’re not going put one particular aspect—like, say, a prohibition on handing out water to voters in line—on blast and leave out the context or other provisions.
OK, that accidentally turned into a sales pitch. So I guess I’ll follow through and remind you that we’re doing a 30-day free trial. If you haven’t joined as a full member yet, now is a great time. You get 13 months for the price of 12, and it’s risk free. And then after you sign up, go take the dog for a walk or call your mom. We’ll be here when you’re done.
Clearly, the execs at Major League Baseball don’t read The Dispatch. If they did, they might not have been so hasty in announcing their decision to pull this summer’s All-Star Game from Georgia. Walter Olson breaks down the law that caused all the hubbub and points out the many problems with these arguments. “If the terrain over which people are bickering is solidly within the range of election law considered normal a half dozen years ago, it’s probably not a return of Jim Crow, nor is it likely to spell the end of American democracy. And most of the bickering—on measures likely to pass—is on stuff like this.”
During the waning days of the Trump administration, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo moved to make it easier for diplomats and high-level officials to engage with their counterparts in Taiwan. How would China react? We found out when the U.S. ambassador to Palau, John Hennessey-Niland, joined the president of Palau on a trip to discuss the pandemic. China was … not happy. In Vital Interests, Thomas Joscelyn goes through the complicated “One China” policy and details how the Trump administration ramped up sales of defensive weapons to Taiwan. He explains how the otherwise benign diplomatic visit has only ratcheted up the tension. “The increasing tension is easy to see. Speaking at China’s annual National People’s Congress earlier this week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned the Biden administration that the CCP’s claim on Taiwan is an “insurmountable red line” that shouldn’t be crossed.”
Having resigned as governor of Missouri in 2018 after being accused of blackmailing a woman with whom he had an affair, Republican Eric Greitens wouldn’t seem like the most obvious candidate to replace retiring Republican Roy Blunt in the Senate. But here we are. Andrew goes back and details the various scandals that plagued Greitens as governor, and looks at his comeback. In this case, Greitens has to contend not only with the skeletons in his closet, but also Josh Hawley. Hawley was the state attorney general and was investigating Greitens for a possible campaign finance violation when the latter resigned. Now, Hawley is a senator himself and has the ear of former President Donald Trump. How that plays out remains to be seen. “For Hawley to endorse one of Greitens’ competitors would be a heavy blow to the former governor’s comeback chances. So far, Hawley hasn’t signaled that he’s ready to let bygones be bygones,” Andrew writes.
Campaign season never really ends. As Texas gears up for a special election to replace Rep. Ron Wright, who was fighting lung cancer when he died in February after testing positive for COVID, one candidate is finding a way to separate himself in a field of 23 candidates. Michael Wood is running a campaign explicitly trying to get the GOP to move past Donald Trump. Audrey talked to Wood: “If we can pull this off, I really do think that it’s going to create a domino effect that will carry into the 2022 midterms,” he told her. “They can say, ‘I understand why you supported Donald Trump. Maybe I even supported him in years past. But now is the time for the good of everything that we care about to move past him.”
And now for the best of the rest.
If you’ve been following the Matt Gaetz saga at all, you won’t want to miss Jonah’s take on it from the Friday G-File. “We have politicians who think their job is to be pundits and social media trolls,” he writes. “That’s literally why they run for office—not to get things done, but to become famous for complaining about what is being done.” Click through for even better turns of phrase.
The World Health Organization has kowtowed to China throughout the pandemic, bungled its messaging, and just generally not lived up to its mission. What’s next? The organization is calling for a treaty that would give it more power—and money—to foster “an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.” Dalibor Rohac explains why this is a terrible idea.
Chris Stirewalt looks at various attacks on the First Amendment by Elizabeth Warren and others, as well as the threats presented by misinformation. How to handle these? He turns to Thomas Jefferson: “When the river of misinformation overruns its banks, Jefferson’s advice was not to build the levees higher but to address its source.”
On the pods: Check out Advisory Opinions for David and Sarah’s take on the Supreme Court case that will decide whether the NCAA’s restrictions on athletes’ compensation run afoul of antitrust law. On the solo Remnant, Jonah ponders whether our politicos have always been this crazy or whether it’s a recent phenomenon. And on The Dispatch Podcast, Steve and Sarah talk to Mick Mulvaney about his time in the Trump administration (and also about his time in Congress, where he co-founded the House Freedom Caucus, which he described as a group of “reasonable nutjobs”).