Posted on

Warren: Of course sexism in Democratic Party presidential primaries is a problem; Update: Pelosi too?

That’s what Elizabeth Warren must mean, right? The now-exited presidential candidate failed to win any contests at all in the 2020 cycle and finished third in her own home state of Massachusetts — in Democratic Party contests, that is. When asked earlier today whether her gender played a role in the outcome, Warren declared it a “trap question,” and proceeded to step into the trap anyway:

Reuters expanded the concept to generalized bigotry in its report:

The vague notion of “electability,” a frequent buzzword on the campaign trail as Democrats prioritized defeating Trump over all other concerns, seemed to hurt Warren and non-white male candidates.

“The general narrative was that the women might be too risky, and I think there were people who heard that enough that it started showing up in polling … and becomes a vicious cycle that was hard to break out of,” said Christina Reynolds, vice president of communications at EMILY’s List, which works to elect women supporting abortion rights and had endorsed Warren.

Asked on Thursday about the role that gender played in the campaign, Warren said it was a tricky issue for female candidates to address.

“That is the trap question for every woman. If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’” she said, in front of her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “If you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a zillion women say, ‘What planet do you live on?’”

Where to begin, where to begin, where to begin … Or do we need to begin at all? Democrats are being hoist by their own petard here, thanks to their incessant declarations of fidelity to an ambiguous standard of Diversity and Inclusivity in the early part of the cycle. They tried to mine as much political gold they could by pandering to identity politics, up to and including Warren’s ludricrous declaration that a random transgender adolescent she met on the campaign trail would have veto power over her choice of Secretary of Education.

More seriously, let’s start with Warren’s performance in her own home state. In exit polls taken on Super Tuesday, Warren only scored 24% among women who voted; Biden got 34% of women, followed by 26% for Sanders. Are 76% of Massachusetts Democratic women sexist for not preferring Warren? If so, Minnesota Democratic women are worse, since only 19% of them voted for Warren. And Vermont women maybe the worst of all, with only 16% challenging Teh Paytreearckee.

It’s time for Warren and her supporters to face facts, Christine Rosen writes at Commentary today. Warren didn’t lose because of her gender, and her gender didn’t lose because Warren did. This was about candidate quality, full stop:

Just look at The Atlantic’s attempt to frame the end of the Warren campaign: “Who could have predicted that Elizabeth Warren would fall so far?” The answer is simple: Anyone who wasn’t fan-girling her from day one, which too much of the mainstream media did. Voters were fed a steady diet of puff pieces featuring her loyal husband and cute dog, as well as flattering profiles depicting her as the smart person’s choice because, although she was reform-minded, she wasn’t a fire-breathing socialist like Bernie Sanders.

The disappointment these supporters now feel requires rationalization (and someone to blame), and the obvious but incorrect culprit? Sexism. As feminist writer Jessica Valenti wrote in a woe-is-women post for Medium, “It’s enough to make me feel, well, despairing: that we had the candidate of a lifetime—someone with the energy, vision, and follow-through to lead the country out of our nightmarish era—and that the media and voters basically outright erased and ignored her.  Pundits will all have their theories; fears over ‘electability’ will likely be their #1 explanation. Don’t tell me this isn’t about sexism. I’ve been around too long for that.”

Valenti and her ilk have an odd definition of “erased.” Warren (and Klobuchar) were endorsed by the New York Times, and Warren logged the most speaking time during several of the major televised debates. As for sexism, wasn’t the Democrats’ last candidate for president a woman?

The real reason Warren’s campaign foundered was more mundane: she failed to win supporters among non-white, non-college educated Democratic voters. Her fan base was always made up of the same kind of people who dominate the national media: well-educated, progressive-leaning white people. News flash: This is not the majority of America, nor even the majority of self-identified Democratic voters. This is why she couldn’t even win over female Democratic voters in her own state. As the New York Times noted, “Even among her strongest demographic group—white college-educated women—Ms. Warren had just 33 percent support, not nearly enough to offset her weakness with other groups.”

Elizabeth Warren didn’t have a gender problem; she had a trust and authenticity problem. Her multiple fabulations about her personal history, including a false claim that she was fired because she was pregnant and the infamous and repeated efforts to pass herself off as Native American, undermine her narrative of being a truth-telling, incorruptible champion of the people. As well, she opportunistically embraced intersectionality politics (such as her claim that a trans person would vet whomever she might choose as her Secretary of Education and her attempts to paint Bernie Sanders as a raging sexist) in a way that was likely off-putting for more moderate Democratic voters.

If Warren and her supporters are correct about sexism being the reason for her loss, then women should learn a lesson from it: Stay out of the Democratic Party. Run as Republicans! And if sexism is truly their main fight, Republicans will look forward to these same women and their supporters endorsing Nikki Haley’s 2024 run for the GOP nomination.

Update: At some point, they’ll realize they’re talking about voters in their own party, right? Right?

Posted on

U.S. legislation targets online child sexual abuse; threatens encryption on Facebook, Google

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on the powerful judiciary committee on Thursday introduced a bill aimed at curbing online distribution of child sexual abuse material that technology and civil liberties groups said was an attack on strong encryption critical to billions of people.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attends an event celebrating the anniversary of the White House’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

The bill by Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Democratic member Richard Blumenthal would end the civil immunity of platforms like Facebook (FB.O) and Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) for user-posted content if they do not follow a new commission’s “best practices” for detecting abusive images. Security experts joined tech trade groups in condemning the bill, saying it was exploiting the scourge of child abuse to threaten encryption protecting ordinary Americans and businesses.

The Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019,” or “EARN IT Act,” has eight additional co-sponsors, including the judiciary committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, fellow Democrats Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Republican senators Josh Hawley, Kevin Cramer and Joni Ernst.

That lineup makes the bill likely to emerge from the committee and at least reach the floor of the Senate, unlike past attempts to hinder strong encryption. Whether it would pass there and in the House are open questions.

A Senate judiciary committee hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday.

The bill would overrule the immunity companies have under federal law known as Section 230, which shields online platforms from being treated as the publisher of information they distribute from others, protecting them from most liability over content.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who co-authored Section 230, criticized the bill.

“This terrible legislation is a Trojan horse to give Attorney General Barr and Donald Trump the power to control online speech and require government access to every aspect of Americans’ lives,” he said.

The Earn It Act cuts the immunity for companies that do not follow practices laid out by a 19-member commission headed by the attorney general, an outspoken foe of strong encryption.

Other members will come from law enforcement, abuse survivors and victims’ services groups, as well as the tech industry.

“For the first time, you will have to earn blanket liability protection when it comes to protecting minors,” Graham said in a statement.

Blumenthal said technology companies need to do better.

“Tech companies have an extraordinary special safeguard against legal liability, but that unique protection comes with a responsibility,” he said.

Immunity from legal responsibility “is a privilege – they have to earn it – and that’s what our bipartisan bill requires,” Blumenthal added.

The move is the latest example of how regulators and lawmakers in Washington are reconsidering the need for incentives that once helped online companies grow but are increasingly viewed as impediments to curbing online crime, hate speech and extremism.

A careful international strategy has already resulted in the United Kingdom and Australia, close U.S. allies, passing laws requiring tech companies to provide technical aid to police investigations. Top Justice Department national security official John Demers said last week that could undercut the tech companies’ argument that U.S. encryption restrictions would make them less competitive with rivals based elsewhere.

Opponents of the bill said it was a foregone conclusion that the “best practices” would not include end-to-end encryption, which stops tech companies, police and hackers from reading messages unless they have access to the devices that sent or received them.

Facebook spokesman Thomas Richards said the company is concerned the bill would limit the ability of American companies to provide private and secure services.

“The EARN IT Act creates a false choice between protecting children and supporting strong encryption protections,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice – a group that counts Facebook, Google, Twitter among its members.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the bill threatens the safety of activists, domestic violence victims and millions of others who rely on strong encryption every day. Others said it raised constitutional issues on freedom from unreasonable searches.

Johns Hopkins security engineering professor Matthew Green said the requirement that two commission members have experience in cryptography or data security showed that it was aimed squarely at encryption.

“This bill is going to be highly damaging to data security,” Green wrote on Twitter. “Worse, by allowing law enforcement to politicize CSAM detection, this bill is going to permanently damage any chance of a productive relationship between Silicon Valley and the organizations that care about the issue.”

Slideshow (3 Images)

At a separate event on Thursday, the Department of Justice and major tech companies agreed on principles for combating child exploitation online. One of the principles said that technology platforms “should seek to design their products with child safety in mind,” which could be seen as opening a discussion about how to defeat encryption.

“I hope this is just the start of us working together to do more,” said British Home Office minister James Brokenshire, who attended the event. He noted, however, that “encryption remains the elephant in the room.”

(This story fixes typo in Dianne Feinstein’s name, paragraph 3)

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington and Joseph Menn in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Raphael Satter in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler

Posted on

Former U.S. Attorney Says Schumer’s SCOTUS Threats ‘May Very Well Be Criminal’

A former U.S. attorney said that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s remarks that Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will “pay a price” if they rule a certain way on an upcoming case “may very well be criminal.”

Schumer told pro-abortion rally attendees Wednesday that both justices would “pay the price” and would not “know what hit” them if they ruled against the pro-choice cause in an upcoming case. The Senate minority leader drew condemnation from many, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and later walked back the remarks.

Guy Lewis, who served as a U.S. attorney during the George W. Bush administration, broke down Schumer’s comments with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner on Thursday’s edition of “Outnumbered Overtime.”

WATCH:

“Look, the ABA [American Bar Association] is no friend of the Republican Party,” Lewis said, responding to Faulkner’s citation of the organization’s condemnation. “I got to tell you, and Schumer’s kind of backtracking, that we’ve heard today. I think it’s a day late and a dollar short. Listen, as a young prosecutor down here in Miami, I actually prosecuted, put somebody in jail for about three years, if I recall correctly, under a similar circumstance where they had threatened a federal judge that had a case pending before her. And so, listen, I don’t think this is bad judgment. This may very well be criminal.”

“When he says he meant what they were talking about, not necessarily threatening them as individuals, what do you do with that?” Faulkner asked.

“Here’s the problem,” Lewis responded. “First of all, you look at the words. Everybody concluded that it is a threat. There is no question. What people don’t understand is that, as soon as that happens, it’s not necessarily Chuck Schumer. Nobody thinks Chuck Schumer is going to go cause bodily harm to the new Trump justices of the Supreme Court. But it incites people, Harris. People listen to that. People act on that.” (RELATED: Josh Hawley To Introduce Senate Motion To Censure Chuck Schumer For SCOTUS ‘Intimidation’)

Based on what he knows about U.S. Marshals Service “procedure,” Lewis speculated that “about a dozen U.S. Marshals are now assigned to these two justices, their families, and for the next six months, they are going to be monitoring them very, very carefully.”

Posted on

This new Biden/Burisma probe by Senate Republicans sure does smell political

I don’t know what he’s talking about. Just because congressional Republicans took zero interest in the Bidens for two years, until Joe entered the race last spring and suddenly the president and his lawyer were scrambling to pressure Ukraine into reopening an investigation into Burisma?

What smells political about that? Why, it’s just a big coincidence.

The rote denials that there are partisan motives behind these clearly partisan investigations irritates me at this point more than the investigations themselves do. Democrats never would have followed through on impeachment if they hadn’t convinced themselves that they’d benefit on Election Day by doing so; Republicans wouldn’t waste a moment on Biden and Burisma if they didn’t think it’d be useful in holding down Joe’s numbers in swing states this fall. But each has to pretend that they care only for The Republic at a moment when the entire political leadership class seems never to have given less of a collective sh*t about the country. Publicly, I mean; privately, TrumpWorld is pretty open about the fact that, yes, they’re going to try to use Burisma to weaken Biden.

Ron Johnson, who’s leading this effort, has taken to spinning it as something for which the opposition should be grateful: “If I were a Democrat primary voter, I’d want these questions satisfactorily answered before I cast my final vote.” I’d respect him more if he answered questions about the timing by simply saying, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” House Democrats have spent the past 14 months conducting investigations of Trump with hopes of a payoff in November. The favor’s now being returned.

Unless Mitt Romney stops it:

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is set to vote next Wednesday on a subpoena for records from a Democratic public relations firm related to the panel’s investigation of conflict-of-interest allegations against the Bidens.

But Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a member of the panel, has hinted that he could vote against issuing the subpoena, noting the committee’s investigation might look political in nature given Biden’s resurgence and the increasing likelihood that he’ll become the Democratic presidential nominee…

Republicans hold a slim 8-6 majority, and if just one GOP senator joins all Democrats, it would mean a 7-7 tie that would result in a failure to issue the subpoena.

“I would prefer that investigations are done by an independent, nonpolitical body,” said Mitt. Okay, but that logic’s not going to fly with righties. Bill Barr’s Justice Department gave Trump a clean bill of legal health last September within days of the Ukraine story breaking big and that didn’t stop House Democrats from launching a months-long investigation. If Democrats won’t treat the DOJ’s verdict on wrongdoing as gospel, why should Republicans? Of course, Democrats would say that the DOJ under Barr isn’t an “independent, nonpolitical body” in any meaningful sense, in which case (a) House Dems had to investigate Ukraine themselves and (b) there’s no reason to believe they’d be evenhanded in investigating Burisma. And Romney might say that just because House Democrats won’t refrain from highly politicized investigations of the president is no reason for the GOP to stoop to the same depths. (A key difference between Romney Republicanism and Trump Republicanism.)

Although given that Romney was the one Republican in Congress to actually validate the impeachment probe by voting to remove, that’d be an awkward argument for him, huh?

I’m intrigued at the possibility that he might block the subpoena, just because a second vote to handicap Trump so soon after his removal vote would be the clearest sign yet that Romney intends to operate as a right-leaning independent for the remainder of the Trump presidency, if not beyond. I stress: A right-leaning independent…

…but an independent nonetheless. He voted in Utah’s presidential primary on Tuesday night and was asked afterwards whom he voted for. “A Republican,” he answered. Trump, he was asked? “Not saying,” he answered. Ahem.

He may end up getting some political cover on blocking the subpoena from an unlikely source. Politico reported last week that Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, had huddled recently with Johnson to warn him to be careful with the Biden probe:

In a Dec. 5 meeting, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, respectively — that their probe targeting Biden could aid Russian efforts to sow chaos and distrust in the U.S. political system, according to two congressional sources familiar with the meeting.

Even a Trump loyalist as devoted as Lindsey Graham has expressed concerns about Russian disinformation ending up as part of Rudy Giuliani’s “fact-finding” efforts in Ukraine. Romney could try to justify a vote against the subpoena on grounds that he’s worried it’ll end up as a tool to inject more Kremlin nonsense into the country’s information bloodstream. “One dossier is enough,” something like that.

Exit question: What do we make now of the hot takes that were circulating three weeks ago that Trump’s Ukraine gambit had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, tempting Democrats into an impeachment saga that ended up promoting the Burisma stuff and ultimately badly damaging Biden’s campaign? My read on it was that Burisma hadn’t hurt Biden much; rather, his campaign was failing because he was an underwhelming candidate who’d never proved his national viability in three runs for the presidency. Three weeks later the guy is posed for a 50-point win in Florida. Pretty safe to say that Burisma hasn’t hurt Joe much. Yet.

Posted on

Judge Orders DOJ To Turn Over Unredacted Mueller Report, Calls Into Question Barr’s ‘credibility’

This story is developing

The Department of Justice was ordered Thursday by Judge Reggie B. Walton to turn over a copy of the unredacted former Special Counsel Robert Mueller report. The judge accused Attorney General William Barr of misrepresenting the findings of the report before it was submitted last year to Congress.

Walton, a federal district court judge in Washington D.C. who was appointed by President George W. Bush, questioned Barr’s public comments and ‘credibility’ about the report before Mueller released his findings.

“The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary,” said Walton in his decision.

Department of Justice officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Further, Walton said “these circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility.”

Walton said he would review the full report and determine whether the redactions made by the DOJ are subject to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Posted on

Power of black vote put wind back in Joe Biden’s sails

Let’s give another round of applause to Congressman Jim Clyburn for setting up the South Carolina primary win that propelled Joe Biden forward, ensuring a tsunami of support that swept not only throughout the south but absolutely sent a message to African American communities across the country. It put the power of the black vote front and center in this election, where it belongs.

Clyburn’s endorsement was the shot heard round the world — even here in Boston to some degree, where Biden surprised many by emerging victorious against three Northeast candidates — Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. No doubt Clyburn’s endorsement created the “big mo” and even caused some smaller ripples that helped close some gaps for Joe.

In fact, a whopping, unheard of 40% of those interviewed in South Carolina exit polls named Clyburn as a major factor for their Biden vote. I predicted in a previous column that southern states with large black populations would follow Clyburn’s lead and vote overwhelmingly for Biden. And they did.

Also, Biden was no stranger to South Carolina, having attended the service at Mother Emmanuel church in Charleston following the heartless shootings there by white supremacist Dylann Roof. That visit was fresh on the heels of losing his “soul,” son Beau, who died of cancer. Biden said being at the church was part of his family’s healing. No doubt Beau is looking down on his dad, cheering him on for keeping his promise to stay “engaged.”

And Biden is more engaged thanks in great measure to Clyburn’s lift. Before that, there was a lot of talk about the importance of the African American vote, but an inordinate amount of attention was given to Iowa and New Hampshire — the whitest of the white states that do not reflect the diversity of the country at large. Let’s just chalk them up as “false starts.” The real traction for Biden was the power of the black vote in action, stoked by a revered black leader.

Those who know Clyburn also know he does not give his powerful endorsement lightly, and will roll up his sleeves to make sure Biden’s momentum continues — based not by what Biden has done, but by what he intends to do to solve some of the persistent problems in African American communities, such as wealth inequality, criminal justice and education reforms, to name a few.

Today, it seems some pundits are trying to minimize the singular power of the black vote in resurrecting Biden’s campaign. Biden doesn’t. He knows and appreciates that this is a key constituency. But more importantly, he should know that he will be expected to do more than just say thank you. The reality is that Rep. Clyburn’s endorsement will only take him so far. Black communities in the big cities whose primaries are yet to come will want to know Biden’s plan of action. Not even the endorsements of Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke hold a candle to the power of the black vote to light the way to the Democratic winning circle

Bernie Sanders is still in the race and does boast significant Hispanic support, and has attracted young African American voters, which I am sure helped propel him to his current second place standing, brought down from first place by Biden, who now claims the lead. To be honest, Bernie has had to run a gauntlet to get where he is, fighting within the party and outside of it. Anything can happen from here on out. It’s a long way to the convention and the primary.

But one thing’s for sure: The power of  the black vote will continue to be a major factor in this race and in the selection of the Democratic nominee.


Joyce Ferriabough Bolling is a media and political strategist and communications specialist.

Posted on

Schumer Denies Threatening Gorsuch, Kavanaugh Over Abortion Case

Amid widespread condemnation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer backpedaled Thursday from inflammatory remarks the day before about two conservative Supreme Court justices, but blamed political opponents for misinterpreting what he said. 

“I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn’t come out the way I intended [them] to,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said. 

Speaking at a Center for Reproductive Rights rally Wednesday outside the Supreme Court as the nine justices heard an aborton case, Schumer warned Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh by name that they had “released the whirlwind” and “will pay the price” if they rule the wrong way on abortion, adding that they “won’t know what hit you.”

“My point was that there would be political consequences, political consequences, for President Trump and Senate Republicans,” Schumer said Thursday on the Senate floor. “Of course I didn’t intend to suggest anything other than political and public opinion consequences for the Supreme Court. It is a gross distortion to imply otherwise.” 

The top Senate Democrat did not apologize.

Schumer took to the Senate floor with a defiant tone, moments after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., became the latest voice from both the right and left to criticize Schumer’s comments at the rally on the steps of the Supreme Court. 

The high court was hearing arguments in a case involving a Louisiana law requiring that doctors who perform abortions at clinics have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. 

During his remarks, Schumer called out Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, both veteran jurists named to the court by President Donald Trump.                 

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, and I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price,” Schumer said in remarks captured on video. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”         

The remarks prompted a rebuke later in the day from Chief Justice John Roberts, who issued a written statement saying: 

BLOCK

Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. 

All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.

UNBLOCK

The usually left-leaning American Bar Association and other organizations from both the right and the left also criticized Schumer for the remarks.  

“The American Bar Association is deeply troubled by today’s statements from the Senate minority leader threatening two sitting justices of the U.S. Supreme Court over their upcoming votes in a pending case,” ABA President Judy Perry Martinez said in a formal statement. “Whatever one thinks about the merits of an issue before a court, there is no place for threats– whether real or allegorical.”

Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Schumer has brought great danger to the steps of the United States Supreme Court!”

In seeking to explain away the comments Thursday, Schumer cloaked his comments in  abortion politics. 

“Yes, I am angry. The women of America are angry. And yes, we will continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose. I will continue to fight for the women of America,” Schumer said. 

“I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn’t have used the words I did,” he said. “But in no way was I making a threat. I never normally do such a thing. Leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that too.”

The previous day, Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman had criticized the chief justice, saying in a written statement:

BLOCK 

For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Senator Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes.

END BLOCK

Trump had said Sotomayor and Ginsburg should recuse themselves from cases involving his policies because both justices have criticized Trump publicly. 

In his floor speech, McConnell said of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s reactions to Schumer’s remarks the day before:  “Most likely, they would hear them as threatening or inciting violence.” 

“That’s certainly how Democrats would have characterized them if President Trump or any senior Republican had said anything remotely similar,” McConnell said. “We’ve seen much more hay made out of much less.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., announced that he would introduce a resolution to censure Schumer for his remarks. 

“I would call on Schumer to apologize, but we all know he has no shame,” Hawley said in a tweet Wednesday. “So tomorrow I will introduce a motion to censure Schumer for his pathetic attempt at intimidation of #SupremeCourt.”

McConnell said Schumer had “doubled down” after his original comments, then “tripled down” after Roberts’ rebuke. 

The Republican leader stressed that words matter. 

“Less than three years ago, an unhinged and unstable left-wing activist attempted the mass murder of congressional Republicans at a basball field right across the river,” McConnell said. “A Senate leader attempting to threaten or incite violence on the steps of the Supreme Court could literally be a matter of deadly seriousness.” 

McConnell also said Democrats’ threats to the judiciary are not new. 

The Senate’s top Republican referred to an August brief filed in a Supreme Court gun rights case in which five Senate Democrats asserted: “The Supreme Court is not well … Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’”     

Those Democrats were Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, all members of  the Senate Judiciary Committee, which holds hearings and votes on presidential appointees to the federal bench.

McConnell said it’s not difficult to read between the lines of a court-packing scheme, likening such remarks to a mob protection racket. 

“You would have expected it to end by saying, ‘That’s some nice judicial independence you’ve got over there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it,’” he said.

Posted on

Why didn’t Elizabeth Warren do better?

“I refuse to let disappointment blind me — or you — to what we’ve accomplished,” Warren told her campaign staff on a conference call Thursday morning. “We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together — what you have done — has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters. And the changes will have ripples for years to come.”

Warren’s decision to leave the race came after a series of disappointing finishes. She placed third in the Iowa caucuses and fourth in the New Hampshire primary. She was fourth again in Nevada and fifth again in South Carolina. Super Tuesday was also a major disappointment; Warren didn’t win a single state and placed third in her home state of Massachusetts.

After such a series of disappointing showings, the only question after Super Tuesday was when Warren would get out. (The only other question was, would Warren endorse anyone on the way out; she did not.)

But with the logistics of when/how Warren will end her campaign now out of the way, a bigger question arises: Why didn’t she do better?

After all, as recently as the early fall of 2019, Warren was among the favorites — if not the favorite — for the nomination. And yet she won zero states and left the race with just 37 delegates.

Answering the “what happened” question is never a simple thing. Voters make up their minds for lots of different reasons — some of which they are willing to articulate and some they simply won’t. But generally speaking, there seem to be three reasons why Warren didn’t get to where she wanted to go. (These are in no particular order.)

1) She peaked too soon: If the Iowa caucuses were October 3, Warren could have won going away. National polling around that time captures Warren’s summer and early fall surge. On October 8, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Warren actually passed former Vice President Joe Biden. But that was the high point for Warren. She never went any higher, watching as her support dropped both nationally and in key early states like Iowa and New Hampshire as the actual votes neared.

That decline led to Warren looking like a bad bet or a risky stock in the eyes of lots of voters. And people — all people — like to be for a winner, or at least someone who they think has a realistic chance to win. When votes started to be cast, that wasn’t Warren.

2) She tried to be more than just a liberal: In announcing her decision to get out, Warren made clear that she was told at the start of the race that there was an incumbent in the liberal lane (Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders) and an incumbent in the moderate lane (Biden). And that there were only two lanes to run in. Warren had said she believed that analysis was wrong, but in the end, she said Thursday that she turned out to be wrong. Voters in the two lanes of the Democratic Party have now coalesced around Biden in the center and Sanders on the left.

You can track Warren’s slide in polling relatively directly to her decision to kind of, sort of walk away from her previously full-throated support for “Medicare for All,” a program that Sanders has long championed that would eliminate the private health insurance industry entirely in favor of a government-run plan. After struggling for weeks to answer her critics’ questions about whether she fully backed Sanders’ plan and how she would fund it, Warren released her own detailed plan that tried to find a middle ground between Sanders and Biden on the issue.

It failed — angering liberals who thought she was walking away from her principles in hopes of appearing more attractive to general election voters and not satisfying more moderate voters who still thought the plan went too far.

3) Sexism: This is an indisputable fact: We have had 44 presidents and not one of them has been a woman. Coincidence? Probably not. How much did the fact that Warren is a woman and ran on an unapologetically feminist platform for president affect the outcome? It’s almost impossible to know, but it’s equally impossible to think it had no role in how voters perceived her.

Asked about the role her gender played in the race on Thursday, Warren responded this way:

“That is the trap question for every woman. If you say yeah, there was sexism in this race, everyone says, ‘Whiner.’ And if you say no, there was no sexism, about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?'”

She added that she would “have a lot more to say on that subject later on.”

Again, how much each of these factors played into Warren’s inability to turn her momentum over the summer into actual votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond is very difficult to say. But there’s little doubt that each of them were part of voters’ calculations as they decided who to be for — and who not be for — by the time votes actually happened.

Posted on

‘I hope it is sooner than it is later’ that a woman is elected president

Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), who has endorsed Joe Biden, joins Andrea Mitchell after Elizabeth Warren announces the suspension of her presidential campaign. Spanberger tells Andrea, “Every time I saw a picture of Elizabeth Warren giving a pinky promise with a little girl and there was a little girl able to see that woman is running for president, if it was Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris saying these women are running for president, it’s powerful.”