Our Best Stuff on Biden’s Approval Ratings and the January 6 Committee
Plus, a postmortem on the president’s Middle East trip.
Hello and happy Saturday. The January 6 committee conducted yet another revealing hearing on Thursday night, and Liz Cheney made an important comment in her closing statement that put voice to something I’ve been thinking about a lot in recent weeks, especially after Cassidy Hutchinson testified.
“[Hutchinson] knew all along that she would be attacked by President Trump, and by the 50-, 60- and 70-year-old men who hide themselves behind executive privilege. But like our witnesses today, she has courage, and she did it anyway. Cassidy, Sarah [Matthews], and our other witnesses including Officer Caroline Edwards, Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman, are an inspiration to American women, and to American girls.”
I don’t know the political beliefs of Edwards, Moss or Freeman, and as they are private citizens, it isn’t really our business. But Hutchinson and Sarah Matthews had previous experience in Republican politics before taking jobs in the Trump White House, and Cheney’s own conservative bona fides are beyond reproach. And these women have been the standouts of the January 6 hearings. I think it’s worth a deeper discussion.
My experience has taught me that liberals don’t always take kindly to conservative women. One time when I lived in Seattle, a few female co-workers were talking politics when a colleague from another department wandered by. He was incredulous. “You can’t be Republicans! You’re women.” I’ve also been told over the years that I’m self-loathing, that I internalized misogyny somewhere down the line, and that conservative women are akin to a “domestic violence victim who keeps coming back for more.” There’s a certain failure of imagination at play here. I’ve had more conversations than I can count with acquaintances and friends of friends and (yes, I should know better) online trolls who simply cannot comprehend why women aren’t down with the liberal agenda.
But while liberals might struggle to understand conservative women, they should be grateful for Cheney, Hutchinson, and Matthews. They should be grateful for Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who along with Cheney voted to impeach Trump after January 6, and for Sen. Lisa Murkowski–the only one of the seven senators who voted to convict him who faces re-election this year. They’ve demonstrated the courage of convictions.
Given that conservative women tend not to focus on gender or identity politics, it feels a little funny to make this a “rah-rah, girl power!” moment. But the fact is that many powerful Republicans (men and women) caved to Donald Trump, sacrificing their integrity for votes or a better job in D.C. How many times have we heard about elected Republicans complaining privately about Donald Trump’s actions, only to defend him publicly? These women have shown that there were alternatives. And for that, I will celebrate them.
Thanks for reading. Now, here’s our best stuff of the week.
How bad is it getting for Joe Biden? Even his own party is giving him a hard time, as Audrey and Price report. Candidates don’t want to be seen with him, elected officials don’t want to talk about 2024, and some are outright criticizing him. “I really don’t want anyone to join me, like this is my race,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic nominee running for the seat of retiring Sen. Rob Portman.“I’m the face of this. It’s my voice, my record, and my issues, so we’re not really asking too many people to come in.” With the midterms looming and voters unhappy about the economy, Democrats are frustrated. “The Biden administration made a terrible misjudgment of downplaying [inflation] at the beginning, and it seemed to show that they really were not on top of their game,” former Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski said. That polls show Biden would beat Trump if they had a rematch in 2024 is small comfort. “I’m not trying to sugarcoat it,” [Rep. Pramila] Jayapal told reporters last week. “It doesn’t help us that there’s—the president’s poll ratings are low.”
Some years ago, I was invited to join a Facebook group for women in journalism. I thought it might be an opportunity to advise—and also learn from—young women in the industry. But I quickly grew dismayed with what I saw. So many of the group members were in journalism not to report on what their local or state government was doing or cover business or technology or the courts, but to further their activism. Climate change, abortion, you name it. The problem is, doing journalism well requires critical thinking skills, and the ability to look at a situation from all angles. Every journalist has his or her opinions and worldview, but bringing an activist mindset makes it hard to set aside biases and seek out the whole truth. And so I was a little disappointed to read this piece from Chris Stirewalt (not disappointed with him!) in which he writes about a new Pew Research survey that shows a wide gap between how well journalists think they are doing their jobs and how the public thinks they are. One key passage: “Younger reporters increasingly shun balance as ‘bothsidesism,’ by which they mean when those holding outré viewpoints—those deemed backward or hostile to progressive goals—are given the same status as those with the correct, forward-looking ideas. In this way, critics say, aspirational fairness legitimizes illegitimate views and individuals.”
Did anyone else get major “Our president went to the Middle East and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” vibes from Joe Biden’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia? Because Danielle Pletka did. In her summary of the trip, she notes that Biden and caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid issued a statement vowing to halt Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon but that it seemed that both “saw this as a convenient way to paper over their fundamental disagreement over what to do about Iran.” His real mission was to persuade the Saudis and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to open up the oil spigot, but that didn’t happen, either. Pletka’s conclusion? “The overall impression was that of a fading president and fading American power.”
And here’s the best of the rest:
If you missed the January 6 committee’s prime-time hearing on Thursday night, Price has you covered. He details the timeline that the committee laid showing Trump’s inaction over the three hours of the riot.
We’ve written a couple times about how some Democratic groups are funding the primary campaigns of MAGA Republicans in hopes of setting up an easier general election matchup. Audrey reports on how Joe O’Dea, a moderate Republican, survived such a challenge in the Colorado GOP Senate primary.
In Capitolism (🔒), Scott Lincicome checks in on the baby formula crisis and finds out there have been some improvements but the real story is what hasn’t been done: Tariffs are still in place and FDA regulations remain a long-term barrier.
Cash bail reform is a big component of the criminal justice reform measures that activists have been pushing for since the 2020 George Floyd protests. Efforts have failed at the congressional level, but, as Mary Trimble reports, some states are implementing their own reforms.
Speaking of states acting where Congress can’t or won’t … James Capretta dives into Colorado’s plan to implement a public option—pushing insurers who operate in the state to offer cheaper and more strictly regulated plans to consumers. He notes that the health care sector is skeptical.
The pods! The pods! On Good Faith, David—who’s written a few words about the problems with the Christian right—welcomes Paul D. Miller about his new book: The Religion of American Greatness: What's Wrong With Christian Nationalism. Space geeks rejoice: On The Dispatch Podcast, Declan speaks to Dr. John Mather, a Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Dr. Scott Acton, a physicist at Ball Aerospace who’s also the wavefront sensing and controls scientist for the Jame Webb space telescope, about the incredible images we’ve been seeing from the telescope. On Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah interview Yale constitutional law professor Akhil Amar about liberal constitutional originalism. And for thoughts on the modern workplace and whether Americans are relying too much on their jobs as a primary source of fulfillment, check out Jonah’s conversation with Brent Orrell on The Remnant.