Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens are opinion columnists. They converse every week.
“Bret Stephens: Hi Gail. So it turns out that Joe Biden really did win Arizona last year. Are you … shocked?
Gail Collins: Pass the champagne, Bret. We’ll drink a toast to the fact that recount-wise, it’s been easy to find excuses to celebrate.
Arizona’s recheck showed Biden actually getting a few more votes than originally tallied. And some of the state’s Republican leaders nodded their approval — one called it “encouraging.” Despite one little cyclone of outrage spotted over Mar-a-Lago.
Did you start out here because it’s the only good news in the country right now? If so, appreciate the effort.
Bret: The truly bad news is that even this modestly good news is actually awful news.
Gail: Ah, welcome to our world.
Bret: What I mean is that this Republican-ordered, Republican-financed audit of ballots in Maricopa County, which is Arizona’s largest, won’t make any difference to Donald Trump’s true believers. There was a similar audit of votes in Michigan that finished earlier this year, also overseen by Republicans, which proved that Biden won that state, too, and it also didn’t have the slightest effect on the two-thirds of Republicans who, as of August, thought the election was rigged.
Gail: Congratulations — you’ve convinced me to be depressed again.
Bret: It reminds me of a line from Huck Finn: “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” That sums up Trump’s political strategy, and if the Biden presidency continues to stumble the way it’s been stumbling, it might just work.”
David Lindsay: Bret thinks Biden should separate the infrastructure bill from the larger reconciliation package, and I agree with him on that issue. I thought it was dangerous to tie them together. Biden will thrive politically if he can get the infrastructure bill over the finish line in a timely fashion, and the rest will follow at some point, but he needs to survive with his majorities in congress for eight years to get the climate crisis addressed. Kathleen calls out the left wing of her democratic party for naivete on how to govern to achieve progressive goals. “They need to be more strategic about leading the country from where we are now to where we need to go. They are ahead of the country on some issues, and too siloed in their thinking at times.”
Variant phrases such as “triggering the libs“ and “melting snowflakes“ are also used to refer to the strategy. It is associated with confrontational political slogans.
The phrase “own the libs” comes from a slang usage of the word own, meaning “to dominate”, “to defeat” or “to humiliate”. The phrase was coined and popularized by critics of the strategy, including politician Nikki Haley, who increased the prominence of the phrase in a 2018 speech in which she criticized the strategy as unpersuasive. It is also used by some who practice the strategy, such as Dan Bongino. The phrase dates back to at least 2015.
Ms. Pawel, a contributing Opinion writer, began reporting on Mario and Andrew Cuomo in 1983. She served as Newsday’s Albany bureau chief between 1984 and 1987.
“When I knew Andrew Cuomo, he was the 20-something top adviser to the governor he called Mario, and I was the 20-something Albany bureau chief for Newsday. I still remember how he ended our occasional phone calls: “Bye, hon,” hanging up immediately before I could protest. It was vintage Andrew — calculated and patronizing, a show of power.
Even in those early years after Mario Cuomo was first elected governor, in 1982, the differences between the two men were as apparent as their similarities. Both were ruthless competitors, prone to bullying. Both were control freaks, inclined to trust very few people outside a small circle of confidants.
But Mario Cuomo’s sharp elbows on the basketball court and pugilistic verbal gymnastics were wrapped in moral complexity, intellectual heft and Jesuitical questioning. His son exhibited none of those qualities. He had inherited his father’s fierce, win-at-any-cost competitive spirit without the humanity or introspection.”
This essay is part of a series exploring bold ideas to revitalize and renew the American experiment. Read more about this project in a note from Ezekiel Kweku, Opinion’s politics editor.
“The 26th Amendment to the Constitution took effect 50 years ago this summer, extending the right to vote to all Americans age 18 and older. It was the fourth amendment in the span of a decade, three of which expanded voting rights — a burst of democratic reform nearly unequaled in the nation’s history.”
” . . . He’s buried under these sexual harassment charges and nobody is defending him. Well, virtually nobody. Rudy Giuliani says driving Cuomo out of office would be “unjust, dangerous and entirely un-American.” People, do you think this is because:
A) Giuliani just wants to see Cuomo suffer through a long, painful impeachment.
B) Giuliani made the remark at a party after several tumblers of scotch.
C) Giuliani thinks it’ll help his son Andrew’s chances to be governor.
Yeah, yeah, it’s A. Well, very possibly all three. But short of Rudy, Cuomo does seem to need all the help he can get. He’s been trying to defend himself by showing pictures where he’s kissing and hugging lots of people who seem perfectly happy with the attention. Of course, some are elderly fans who were standing in line waiting for it. Others, like, say, Al Gore, seem … not transported.” . . .
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Gail Collins. My lady and I are used to your writing being magnificent and funny, and this was fun to read aloud. We especially liked, “And then there’s the non-grabby Cuomo, who looks almost as bad in the James report. Some women said his “flirtatious behavior” was problematic, but still “a better alternative to the otherwise tense, stressful and ‘toxic’ experience in the Executive Chamber.” Don’t think it’s possible to defend yourself against charges of unwanted grabbing by proving your targets were even more traumatized when you screamed at them.”
Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield founded Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings in 1978.
“We are the founders of Ben & Jerry’s. We are also proud Jews. It’s part of who we are and how we’ve identified ourselves for our whole lives. As our company began to expand internationally, Israel was one of our first overseas markets. We were then, and remain today, supporters of the State of Israel.
But it’s possible to support Israel and oppose some of its policies, just as we’ve opposed policies of the U.S. government. As such, we unequivocally support the decision of the company to end business in the occupied territories, which a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, has deemed an illegal occupation.”
Mr. Pildes has spent his career as a legal scholar analyzing the intersection of politics and law and how that affects our democracy.
“The ability of the American political system to deliver major policies on urgent issues is hampered by features of our institutions that we take for granted and rarely think about. Take the Constitution’s requirement that House members serve for only two-year terms.
Just a few months into a new administration, as the country grapples with issues of economic recovery and renewal, Congress’s actions are being shaped not by the merits of policy alone but also by the looming midterm elections. It’s not just the fall 2022 election; many incumbents are also calculating how best to position themselves to fend off potential primary challenges.
In nearly all other democracies, this is not normal.
The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.”
“Like everyone else, I look forward to a summer of reconnecting with family and friends and relishing a good ole Fourth of July barbecue — unmasked! But I will be doing so with a pit in my stomach, because just beneath the surface calm in America, volcanic forces are gathering that could blow the lid off our democracy. We are living in a fool’s paradise. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Three recent news stories have me terrified:
First are the unfolding reports about how Donald Trump’s Justice Department secretly seized the personal data of journalists and Democrats in Congress from phone and tech companies while investigating leaks, and even secured Trump’s own White House counsel’s data. Now imagine what would happen if Trump was re-elected in 2024 by his cultlike following and he didn’t have to worry about facing voters again? He’d be out of control.”
David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Bravo Thomas Friedman. When you are good, you’re great. You end, “This is political dynamite for Democrats. The Trump-cult G.O.P. will pound them on this policing issue. Biden needs to keep rallying his party tightly around his right answer: transformed policing and sufficient policing — not defunding the police. Because if people feel forced to choose security over democracy — concerns about stealing outside their door over stealing an election — beware: Way too many will choose Trump and his cult.” I couldn’t take fault with anything in your piece, but I worry that unarmed old progressives like myself would be sorry partners in a civil war. While I enjoyed the top comments, they didn’t ever address directly your essay or its multiple points. It makes me wonder if the NYT comments section, which I love, should add a new category, On Topic, next to, Reader Picks, and NYT Picks, that would steer some of us to comments that actually address the essay that provides the forum, but is often ignored, or replied to only obliquely. While this might be a silly idea, or way to much work, maybe there is a solution. I will start rereading the NYT Picks, to see if they have a quiet bias towards this desire I have, to see writers address the essay at hand. Friedman is right to warn us of how dire this Defund the Police language will be to the future of our democracy. Here in Hamden CT, there are young radicalized progressive no nothings that spout Defund the Police, hurting Democrats.
Mr. Shapiro, a Senate staffer from 1975 to 1987 and a former counsel for Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, has written extensively about the U.S. Senate, including in two books.
“The United States urgently needs a functioning Senate, which operates, in the words of the former vice president and senator Walter Mondale, as “the nation’s mediator.” Unfortunately, what we have instead is a body that, among other things, cannot pass a bill to create an independent commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection or to defend national voting rights.
Senators must confront what has proved to be a debilitating obstacle: the legislative filibuster — more precisely, the minimum 60-vote supermajority requirement for most legislation.
This problem has fallen to Senate Democrats, who hold a narrow majority, and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will be a decisive vote for any reform of the arcane rule. Mr. Manchin has defended the need for the filibuster, often citing the legacy of his predecessor Robert C. Byrd.
Mr. Byrd was the keeper of the Senate flame: The longest-serving senator and its foremost parliamentarian and historian, he never stopped believing that the Senate was “the premier spark of brilliance that emerged from the collective intellect of the Constitution’s framers.” ” . . .
Mr. Wehner, who served in various roles in the three Republican administrations before the Trump administration, is a contributing Opinion writer.
Liz Cheney and Donald Trump in happier days.Credit…Andrew Harnik/Associated Press
“I asked a Republican who spent time with Representative Liz Cheney last week what her thinking was in speaking out so forcefully, so unyieldingly, against Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen, despite knowing that this might cost the three-term congresswoman her political career.
“It’s pretty simple,” this person, who requested anonymity in order to speak openly, told me. “She decided she’s going to stay on the right side of her conscience.”
“She wasn’t going to lie to stay in leadership,” he added. “If telling the truth was intolerable, she knew she wasn’t going to keep her leadership position.”
Ms. Cheney was certainly right about that. Early on Wednesday, House Republicans ousted her from her position as the chairman of the House Republican conference, the No. 3 leadership slot, one her father held in the late 1980s. The next priority of Mr. Trump and MAGA world? To defeat her in a primary in 2022. . . . “
The columns ends: “Ms. Cheney was stripped of her leadership post because she committed the unpardonable sin in 2021’s Republican Party: She spoke the truth about the legitimacy of the 2020 election results and refused to back down. Whatever she was before, she is a voice of conscience now, reminding her colleagues of their Faustian bargain with their peculiar Mephistopheles, Donald Trump. It enrages them even as it haunts them.
Today the Republican Party is less a political party than a political freak show. It is being sustained by insidious lies. And people who love America, starting with conservatives, should say so. Otherwise, if the Republican Party’s downward spiral isn’t reversed, it will descend even further into a frightening world of illusion.”