Donald Trump’s fall

Ukraine


“Destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk are seen as part of the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine in Kyiv, August 24.” Photograph by Gleb Garanich for Reuters, August 24, 2022,[22] fair use.

Well, now . . .

In a matter of days, Ukraine retook swaths of its Kharkiv region, where Russians had fought ferociously for months, spending lives and ammunition to take over cities, sometimes a building at a time. . . .

“Kupyansk is undoubtedly a tasty target for the Ukrainian Armed Forces insofar as it is an intersection of railroads and highways and is a logistical base that supplies materiel for practically all our troops west of the Siverskyi Donets River, so the stakes are very high,” Russian military expert Mikhail Khodaryonok said.[23]

Earlier, the commander leading Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, said Ukraine had full control of Balakliya and also controlled part of Kupyansk, an important strategic rail hub seen as crucial to Russia’s war effort in the region.[24]

Julia Ioffe[25] was very far from alone in forecasting a long, grinding war. As near as I could tell, this was pretty much a universal consensus. There are, of course, questions about whether the Ukrainian advance can be sustained, but for now, it very much appears that Ukraine is putting western-supplied weapons to good use.[26]

Robyn Dixon, Steve Hendrix and Liz Sly, “Russia confirms big retreat near Kharkiv as Ukraine offensive advances,” Washington Post, September 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/10/ukraine-kharkiv-russia-retreat-izyum/

Thomas Grove and Evan Gershkovich, “In Major Advance, Ukraine Drives Russians Out of Key Front-Line Cities,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-major-advance-ukraine-drives-russians-out-of-key-eastern-city-11662807160


Pennsylvania

2022 election


Fig. 1. John Fetterman as mayor of Braddock, photograph uncredited and undated, via Next Pittsburgh,[27] fair use.

Dana Milbank, “And on the eighth day, God said: Let Mastriano win Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, September 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/09/doug-mastriano-prophet-julie-green/


Gilead

Evangelical Protestants

Fig. 1. “You shall have no other gods before me.”[28] Photograph posted to Twitter by Antonia Lee Donnelly, February 16, 2020,[29] fair use.

Dana Milbank, “And on the eighth day, God said: Let Mastriano win Pennsylvania,” Washington Post, September 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/09/doug-mastriano-prophet-julie-green/

Gilead

Donald Trump

Coup attempt


Fig. 1. Original: The White House. Derivative work: J. J. Messerly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

With regard to Sarah Palin’s loss in a special election in Alaska, this is the factor I find most salient:

Sure, it’s possible that Alaskans are just sick of Sarah Palin. She abandoned them, leaving her governorship with a year left on her term under a cloud of ethics complaints. She bought a house in Arizona and had middling success at becoming a reality-television star. None of this seemed to work in Palin’s favor; in July, an Alaska Survey Research poll found her to have a positive–negative rating of 31–61 among the state’s registered voters. Maybe Alaska didn’t want its prodigal daughter to return.[30]

But that’s an incomplete explanation for Mary Peltola’s victory because, well, Alaskans had a Republican alternative, Nick Begich, III. They didn’t choose him either. At the very least, in Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system, voters preferred the Democrat to Palin and there weren’t enough who chose Begich.

Molly Jong-Fast believes the ranked-choice system should have worked in favor of Republicans.[31] I would question that, given Palin’s strong negatives. Everything I heard from Alaska is that Alaskans were really, really unhappy with Palin, pretty much for the reasons Jong-Fast states.

Are Alaskans really holding a grudge this long? I’ve never even been to Alaska but I’m thinking that, yes, they most definitely are. I am absolutely not, certainly not without visiting the state, ready to discount the Republican complaint that ranked-choice worked against them.[32]

Jong-Fast also points to two other factors that might have influenced the vote:

  • First, abortion rights.[33] Jong-Fast writes that

    Since Friday, June 24, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, there have been five congressional special elections. In every single one of these, the Republican candidate has underperformed against the partisan lean of his or her district.”[34]

  • Second, Jong-Fast suspects that anti-intellectualism, which has propelled the political careers not only of Palin, but of Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Donald Trump, and countless other Republicans, may have backfired.[35] This would be quite a turn. U.S. anti-intellectualism dates back at least a thousand years and to another continent.[36]

We’ll see it all play out again this November, as all three candidates in Alaska will vie for a new term following the one that Peltola will now complete.[37] But I gotta tell you, as the scandal over Trump’s mishandling of classified documents develops[38] and another scandal about his fundraising fraud resurfaces,[39] Trump flags and yard signs seem to be disappearing in southwest Pennsylvania where previously they were ubiquitous. I’ll continue looking, but their sudden absence seems as striking as that of Confederate flags following the January 6 coup attempt.[40]

There’s no small risk in attributing a statewide result to national factors—this applies to Jong-Fast’s consideration of abortion rights and Trump[41]—particularly in a state as remote as Alaska, yet such factors may be compelling here as it’s looking more and more like Democrats may do far better than expected in November,[42] like white Christian nationalism has overstepped, and like Trump is now dead politically.

I am very much wishing I could be on the ground in more places, especially including Alaska right now. I might have more insight to offer.

Greg Sargent, “MAGA Republicans are seething with rage because Biden hit his target,” Washington Post, September 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/02/biden-speech-philadelphia-trump-maga-republicans-democracy/

Eric Tucker, “Trump search inventory released, reveals new details on docs,” Associated Press, September 2, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-6bd103a8e418166b17a34d77e8d9102d

Andrew Kaczynski and Samantha Woodward, “Donald Trump has repeatedly called for lengthy jail sentences for those who he claimed mishandled classified information,” CNN, September 3, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/03/politics/trump-jail-sentences-mishandled-classified-information-kfile/index.html

David Frum, “Biden Laid the Trap. Trump Walked Into It,” Atlantic, September 4, 2022, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/09/trump-pennsylvania-rally-republicans/671344/

Lauren Gambino and David Smith, “Could unexpected Democratic gains foil a midterm Republican victory?” Guardian, September 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/04/midterm-democrats-victory-republicans-trump

Charlie Savage, “As Midterms Near, Election Rule Raises Dilemma for Trump Inquiries,” New York Times, September 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/04/us/trump-investigations-midterm-elections.html

Jess Bravin and Aruna Viswanatha, “Judge Grants Donald Trump’s Request for Independent Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents,” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-partly-grants-donald-trumps-request-for-independent-review-of-mar-a-lago-documents-11662395427

Charlie Savage, “‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry,” New York Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/us/trump-special-master-aileen-cannon.html

Eric Tucker, “Judge grants Trump bid for special master in Mar-a-Lago case,” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2022, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2022-09-05/judge-grants-trump-bid-for-special-master-in-mar-a-lago-case

Ann E. Marimow and Devlin Barrett, “Judge’s special-master order a test of Trump’s post-White House powers,” Washington Post, September 6, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/06/trump-judge-cannon-special-master-order/

J. Oliver Conroy, “Why did a judge grant Trump’s request for a ‘special master’?” Guardian, September 7, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/07/why-did-judge-grant-special-master-trump

Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/

Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. seeks to regain access to classified Mar-a-Lago documents,” Washington Post, September 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/09/08/justice-appeals-trump-documents-special-master/

Alan Feuer et al., “Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept.,” New York Times, September 9, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/08/us/politics/trump-save-america-pac-subpoenas.html


  1. [22]Reuters, “Ukraine puts destroyed Russian tanks on display in Kyiv,” August 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/news/picture/ukraine-puts-destroyed-russian-tanks-on-idUSRTSALV9Q
  2. [23]Thomas Grove and Evan Gershkovich, “In Major Advance, Ukraine Drives Russians Out of Key Front-Line Cities,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-major-advance-ukraine-drives-russians-out-of-key-eastern-city-11662807160
  3. [24]Robyn Dixon, Steve Hendrix and Liz Sly, “Russia confirms big retreat near Kharkiv as Ukraine offensive advances,” Washington Post, September 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/09/10/ukraine-kharkiv-russia-retreat-izyum/
  4. [25]Julia Ioffe, “Putin’s Wood Chipper,” Puck News, May 17, 2022, https://puck.news/putins-wood-chipper/
  5. [26]Thomas Grove and Evan Gershkovich, “In Major Advance, Ukraine Drives Russians Out of Key Front-Line Cities,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-major-advance-ukraine-drives-russians-out-of-key-eastern-city-11662807160
  6. [27]Kim Lyons, “Braddock Mayor John Fetterman keeps on truckin’ in his quest for the Senate,” Next Pittsburgh, March 11, 2016, https://nextpittsburgh.com/features/the-challengers-braddock-mayor-john-fetterman-keeps-on-truckin/
  7. [28]Exod. 20:3.
  8. [29]Antonia Lee Donnelly, “Now I've seen everything,” Twitter, February 17, 2020, https://twitter.com/DonnellyAntonia/status/1229227422836559873
  9. [30]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  10. [31]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  11. [32]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  12. [33]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  13. [34]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  14. [35]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  15. [36]David Benfell, “Barack Obama asks, ‘Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?’” Not Housebroken, November 4, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/11/04/barack-obama-asks-why-is-it-that-the-folks-that-won-the-last-election-are-so-mad-all-the-time/
  16. [37]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  17. [38]Scott R. Anderson et al., “What We Do and Don’t Know About the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search,” Lawfare, August 9, 2022, https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-we-do-and-dont-know-about-fbis-mar-lago-search; Isaac Arnsdorf et al., “Trump is rushing to hire seasoned lawyers — but he keeps hearing ‘No,’” Washington Post, August 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/16/trump-lawyers-fbi-raid/; Devlin Barrett, “Justice Dept. says Trump team may have hidden, moved classified papers,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-documents-removed-storage-room/; Devlin Barrett et al., “Mar-a-Lago search appears focused on whether Trump, aides withheld items,” Washington Post, August 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/09/trump-fbi-search-mar-a-lago/; Devlin Barrett et al., “FBI searched Trump’s home to look for nuclear documents and other items, sources say,” Washington Post, August 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/11/garland-trump-mar-a-lago/; Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, “Agents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/12/trump-warrant-release/; Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, “Mar-a-Lago affidavit says many witnesses interviewed, 184 classified files returned in January,” Washington Post, August 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/26/trump-affidavit-released/; Josh Dawsey et al., “FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search followed months of resistance, delay by Trump,” Washington Post, August 23, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/23/trump-records-mar-a-lago-fbi/; Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, “Archives asked for records in 2021 after Trump lawyer agreed they should be returned, email says,” Washington Post, August 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/24/trump-records-archives-2021/; Igor Derysh, “‘Lawyers are giggling’: Legal experts scratch their heads at Trump’s ‘very strange’ new DOJ lawsuit,” Salon, August 23, 2022, https://www.salon.com/2022/08/23/lawyers-are-giggling-legal-experts-scratch-their-heads-at-trumps-very-strange-new-doj/; Alex Leary, Aruna Viswanatha, and Sadie Gurman, “FBI Recovered Eleven Sets of Classified Documents in Trump Search, Inventory Shows,” Washington Post, August 12, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fbi-recovered-eleven-sets-of-classified-documents-in-trump-search-inventory-shows-11660324501; Renato Mariotti, “Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That,” Politico, August 14, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/08/14/trump-classified-documents-doj-opinion-00051584; Amber Phillips, “What could the Mar-a-Lago search mean for Trump legally?” Washington Post, August 10, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/07/what-is-presidential-records-act-how-did-trump-violate-it/; William Rivers Pitt, “An Enron-Inspired Law May Be a Sharper Legal Threat to Trump Than Espionage Act,” Truthout, August 30, 2022, https://truthout.org/articles/an-enron-inspired-law-may-be-a-sharper-legal-threat-to-trump-than-espionage-act/; Jennifer Rubin, “Trump’s risk of indictment for his document snatch just skyrocketed,” Washington Post, August 23, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/23/trump-documents-indictment-risk-skyrocket/; Jennifer Rubin, “Former GOP Justice lawyers: Trump’s in a heap of trouble,” Washington Post, September 1, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/09/01/republican-lawyers-trump-documents/; Tierney Sneed, “Justice Department ordered to release redacted Mar-a-Lago search warrant affidavit,” CNN, August 25, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/08/25/politics/trump-mar-a-lago-fbi-raid/index.html; Perry Stein et al., “Justice filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say,” Washington Post, August 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/31/trump-lawyers-legal-jeopardy/; Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, “Trump Tells His Lawyers: Get ‘My’ Top Secret Documents Back,” Rolling Stone, August 23, 2022, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-tells-lawyers-get-my-top-secrets-documents-back-1234580501/; Betsy Woodruff Swan, Kyle Cheney, and Nicholas Wu, “FBI search warrant shows Trump under investigation for potential obstruction of justice, Espionage Act violations,” Politico, August 12, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/12/search-warrant-shows-trump-under-investigation-for-potential-obstruction-of-justice-espionage-act-violations-00051507; Eric Tucker, “Trump search inventory released, reveals new details on docs,” Associated Press, September 2, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-6bd103a8e418166b17a34d77e8d9102d; Eric Tucker and Michael Balsamo, “Trump says FBI conducting search of Mar-a-Lago estate,” Associated Press, August 8, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-mar-a-lago-government-and-politics-9e8d683afe87389407950af7ccfdbdd6; Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent, “Merrick Garland’s surprise announcement calls the Trump-GOP bluff,” Washington Post, August 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/11/garland-announcement-trump-fbi-bluff/; Marcy Wheeler, “Trump's Timid (Non-Legal) Complaints about Attorney-Client Privilege,” Empty Wheel, August 14, 2022, https://www.emptywheel.net/2022/08/14/trump-claims-the-ssa-receipt-includes-privileged-materials/; Jan Wolfe, Alex Leary, and Sadie Gurman, “Mar-a-Lago Boxes Had More Than 700 Pages of Classified Papers, National Archives Letter Says,” Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/letter-to-trump-lawyer-highlights-national-archives-concern-over-sensitive-materials-before-mar-a-lago-search-11661271403
  18. [39]Josh Dawsey, “Trump campaign has finally stopped their fundraising emails. They raised more than $200 million after the election with hundreds of pitches to donors to help overturn it,” Twitter, January 12, 2021, https://twitter.com/jdawsey1/status/1348808128754823169; Alan Feuer et al., “Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept.,” New York Times, September 9, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/08/us/politics/trump-save-america-pac-subpoenas.html; Simon Lewis, “Trump unveils $207 million fundraising haul after election in effort to overturn result,” Reuters, December 3, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-fundraising/trump-unveils-207-million-fundraising-haul-after-election-in-effort-to-overturn-result-idUSKBN28E012; Peter Slevin, “Trump’s Election-Fraud Bluster Finds an Audience,” New Yorker, December 5, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/the-political-scene/donald-trumps-election-fraud-bluster-finds-an-audience
  19. [40]David Benfell, “More questions than answers as Donald Trump flags come down,” Not Housebroken, September 5, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/08/28/more-questions-than-answers-as-donald-trump-flags-come-down/
  20. [41]Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/
  21. [42]Lauren Gambino and David Smith, “Could unexpected Democratic gains foil a midterm Republican victory?” Guardian, September 5, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/04/midterm-democrats-victory-republicans-trump; Alex Griffing, “Drudge Puts Trump in an Orange Jumpsuit as Site Monitors His Potential Indictment,” Mediaite, August 29, 2022, https://www.mediaite.com/news/drudge-puts-trump-in-an-orange-jumpsuit-as-site-monitors-his-potential-indictment/; Molly Jong-Fast, “Sarah Palin Could Be a Harbinger,” Atlantic, September 8, 2022, https://newsletters.theatlantic.com/wait-what/6319112fda4cea0020f70f7c/sarah-palin-alaska-congressional-race-trumpism/; Nathaniel Rakich, “Yes, Special Elections Really Are Signaling A Better-Than-Expected Midterm For Democrats,” FiveThirtyEight, August 24, 2022, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/yes-special-elections-really-are-signaling-a-better-than-expected-midterm-for-democrats/; Austin Sarat and Dennis Aftergut, “Americans are starting to get it: we can’t let Trump – or Trumpism – back in office,” Guardian, August 30, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/30/trump-republicans-voters-midterms-democrats

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