There’s a warning for Republicans in the defeat of Marc Molinaro in Tuesday night’s special election in New York’s 19th Congressional District, but also hope.
It was a tiny turnout across the board but especially for the Trump base — rural and working class, non-college-educated white voter — who stayed home, while Democrat women without much else to vote for are newly energized by abortion, as we have seen in each of the four US House special elections since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June, overturning Roe v. Wade.
But that does not mean that Democrats will be riding a Dobbs backlash to victory at the midterms, to paraphrase a hopeful New York magazine headline — as long as the GOP gets its act together.
Voters aren’t stupid, and if you wanted to send the Republican party a message that they have to wake up and start fighting for their country, NY19 was a safe way to do it.
The special election changes nothing in the House since Ryan will just squat for a few weeks in the Dem seat vacated by Antonio Delgado when he became lieutenant governor.
Molinaro has a good chance of flipping the seat in the November rematch, thanks to the roughly 170,000 voters who will join the red wave that will hit the country at the midterms, says pollster Rich Baris, Director of Big Data Poll, whose prescient forecasts have earned him the nickname “people’s pundit.”
The real tale of NY19, he says, is that Republicans have an enthusiasm deficit “in all these races where Donald Trump is not involved . . . The party is not ready to leave Donald Trump . . . If Republicans were able to do this on their own, without Daddy — a Daddy they resent by the way — having to drag them over the finish line,” they wouldn’t need Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his House counterpart Kevin McCarthy “don’t inspire anybody,” Baris said.
“The Republican Party is in an identity crisis,” Baris said. “They’re not capturing the anger of the views that we’re seeing in the Republican base. It’s hard to talk about inflation when you send 50 billion to Ukraine. People are saying, ‘What about me?’ ”
It’s not about promising tax cuts or wailing about the economy. Republican voters correctly think they are under attack on all fronts, and they don’t see their representatives acting accordingly.
When Trump was president, Democrats were able to bring his administration to a grinding halt, with all sorts of dirty tricks and fancy footwork.
Today, Biden is the most unpopular president in modern history, Dems have tiny majorities and no mandate to wreck the country in the way they are. So, Republican voters feel their party is just rubberstamping ruinous legislation and not putting up a real fight.
Trump, on the other hand does nothing but fight. Tuesday he was back attacking his own party, after Biden poured fuel on the inflation fire with his college debt gambit.
In a statement, Trump wrote that the GOP Senate leader “continues to give the Radical Left the Trillions and Trillions of Dollars that they constantly DEMAND…. These expenditures are something our Country can never recover from. Mitch McConnell is not an Opposition Leader, he is a pawn for the Democrats to get whatever they want.”
A perfect example of not fighting when you should is abortion. Republicans have not formulated a coherent position since the Dobbs decision.
Baris calls this “political malpractice.” The fact is that Americans are not in favor of unfettered abortion and you just have to point that out. Extensive polling by Baris shows that the “pro-choice” position depends very much on the stage of the pregnancy. About half of Americans who call themselves pro-choice are not in favor of abortion in the second trimester, the stage when the baby feels pain, and about 60 percent don’t support abortion in the last nine months.
In one of Trump’s 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton, when her pet subject of abortion came up, he snarled, “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can . . . rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth.” Baris says Trump instantly “neutralized the issue so she had to stop talking about it.”
Molinaro is pro-choice, and New York’s liberal abortion laws are set in stone, with Dobbs having zero impact, so the GOP figured that neutralized the issue. Lee Zeldin has taken a similar approach, that it’s not a big deal in New York.
But all that does is cede ground to their opponents’ dishonest narrative that every Republican has a Handmaid’s Tale fantasy. It also passes up an opportunity to punch a Dem on the nose.
Republicans can’t rest on their haunches and wait for Joe Biden’s unpopularity to do their work.
Not-so-fond farewell, Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the self-described embodiment of “Science,” is being valorized in all the usual places after announcing his “stepping down” a k a retirement. His departure looks like an attempt to avoid accountability in Republican investigations next year into his botched and contradictory COVID advice to two presidents, his proxy funding of gain of function research at the Wuhan lab where the virus probably originated, potential conflicts of interest and his suppression of dissent about the origins of the virus and how to deal with it. As Johns Hopkins professor Marty Makary has pointed out, Fauci ignored natural immunity and supported vaccine mandates that saw essential workers like pilots lose their jobs, and he supported oppressive restrictions for children, including school closures and masks, despite the fact they were least at risk of serious illness. He was exactly the wrong person to guide our pandemic response. Appointing Fauci COVID czar was one of the worst failures of the Trump administration and a good reason why it lost office.
Laptop stays in picture
When I was writing “Laptop From Hell,” I often thought what a great movie Hunter Biden’s laptop would make. It takes us from the White House to the opulent haunts of oligarchs in Monte Carlo, Lake Como, Hong Kong and Shanghai, from a Mexican billionaire’s beach villa in Acapulco to the desolate oil fields of Kazakhstan, from a judo competition in Budapest with Vladimir Putin to dinner in Beijing with Xi Jinping. Beautiful Russian escorts and thieving drug dealers float through the Chateau Marmont amid slapstick scenes as crack-head Hunter comes unstuck and his hapless Uncle Jim Biden rides in to the rescue. Sadly, Hollywood never came knocking.
But now, the intrepid Irish-American filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney are about to release their own version of the tale, “My Son Hunter.” You won’t be surprised to hear they had trouble finding anyone in Hollywood to fund or distribute it.
So they crowdfunded the project, starring John James as Joe Biden and Laurence Fox as Hunter, and filmed it in Serbia. Breitbart News came to the rescue on distribution, and it’s all systems go for Sept. 9.
I’ve only seen a 30-second teaser but glimpses of the first son amid scantily clad babes, oligarchs and menacing drug dealers are suitably sizzling. A longer trailer will be launched in a livestream Thursday night (tonight) on Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social.
Former first son, Don Trump Jr., will appear on a panel after the trailer, presumably to opine on how differently this story would have been treated if that infamous laptop had belonged to him.