What I have both dreaded and savored for 18 years: my daughter's Dorm-Move-In Day, at which I'll mostly get in the way while slobbering with parting sentimentality. Anyway, that day has arrived. See you tomorrow.
Today's posts below, of course.
Paul Ryan, spewing some truly fake news at a CNN town hall last night: "I believe it's going to be far easier for us to do tax reform than it was for, say, health care reform."
What's fake is Ryan's use of tax "reform," when what he really means are simple cuts.
Thus I agree and then disagree with Paul Krugman: "The next item on the agenda, tax 'reform,' may not fare much better. I use scare quotes because a true reform, reducing some tax rates but making up for the lost revenue by closing loopholes, was never going to happen. Straight-out tax cuts, which benefit corporations and the wealthy while blowing up the deficit, might still go through, but even that looks doubtful."
With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House, Republican tax cuts look "doubtful," Mr. Krugman? It seems to me that tax cuts — the singular object of Republican knowhow — are the only agenda item that look certain.
Breitbart is now a delight to read.
Trump announced his new strategy on Afghanistan Monday night, vowing he would end former President Barak Obama’s cautious and restrictive rules of warfare.
But the president specifically echoed his predecessor’s 2009 [surge] speech….
The story's byline reads "Charlie Spiering." But the piece is invisibly signed by Steve Bannon, whose embryonic war against Trump will become increasingly observable.
And I'm increasingly amused by those who believe that Bannon intends to battle not Trump but the "globalists" and Republican establishment — all, pretty much, one in the same.
(Part 1 of this beautiful war, here.)
Donald Trump was right, Steve Bannon was right, Trump is wrong, Bannon remains right — and Gov. John Kasich, who believes that "America cannot afford to make an open-ended commitment of further lives and treasure to the improbable proposition of building a cohesive nation in Afghanistan," is stupendously right and politically correct, the latter of which will enhance his 2020 primary campaign against a president who was then right and wrong now.
If 30,000 additional American troops in Afghanistan changed nothing in 2009 and beyond, just how, asked Bannon, can another 4,000 troops bring about a substantially favorable change? Trump, who as a wannabe commander in chief had posited the same — “It is time to get out," "Afghanistan is a complete waste," "We should have a speedy withdrawal" — has now endorsed the concept of "simply trying not to lose," as the Washington Post puts it. More lives and more treasure are being dedicated to the impossible proposition of building a cohesive Afghanistan.
As Thomas Jefferson observed of American slavery and the ill-fated Missouri Compromise designed to address it, "We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go." Such is the quandary of three other presidents addressing our bondage in and to Afghanistan, although the first of these three, George W. Bush, almost wholly owns this enduring graveyard of military, diplomatic and political despair. His decision to commit ground troops in 2001 also committed his successors to a perpetual helplessness; neither Obama nor Trump could preposterously declare victory and get the hell out. Perhaps a fourth president, in 2021, will alternatively declare the folly of any further commitment.
Trump, as we know, wanted to; but Trump, as we also know, is a paragon of shameless incompetence and vivid unaccountability. Thus last night he further committed us without detailing the commitment. "He declined," as the NY Times summarizes it, "to specify either the number of troops that would be committed, or the conditions by which he would judge the success of their mission…; nor did he explain how his path would be different from what he labeled the failed strategies of previous presidents."
As with everything Trump, his diaphanous Afghanistan strategy is merely a domestic ploy. He is once again betraying his base by negating his notion of "America First"; he is clouding a virtually indistinguishable policy in vaporous pronunciamentos of great change. He barks of a fresh strategy absent almost any freshness, but he knows that most of his base is too thickheaded to understand or condemn it. Once again he is plugging some idiot in the middle of Fifth Avenue.
Such is the essence of the Donald's triumphalism, but growing around it is evidence that it's wearing thin. Which is to say, his base is thinning. A thickheaded core will stay loyal, of course, but his ever-downward job-approval ratings emphatically suggest a steady desiccation of Trumpism. And salivating in the wings is Gov. John Kasich.
I gather from today's meager stats that virtually all Americans are outdoors and unplugged, preparing to stare into the metaphoric abyss of today's eclipse. So, see you tomorrow, after America has gone back indoors.
(Note to those who believe that today's eclipse is a natural phenomenon: No friggin' way; this time it really is a sign, from benevolent gods, of our electoral foolishness.)
It's time once again to compare and contrast.
Politico: "Donald Trump is methodically building a 2020 reelection campaign machine, shunting aside doubts about his viability for a second term as controversy consumes the early months of his administration."
NBC News: Donald Trump's job approval rating in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin is 36, 35, and 34, respectively.
Subtract only those states' 46 Electoral votes from Trump's 2016 total, and his victory becomes a loss — by 12.
In what other states might he compensate? Beats the hell out of me.
One down, thousands to go.
Bernard is the born-again pastor of a nearly 40,000-member megachurch in Brooklyn, NY. If the pastors of rural America also flee the moral abomination in the White House, then Christianity might survive as a nationwide religion of some respectability. Of this, however, there is little prospect. Christianity long ago sold its soul to demonic politics.
This is the kind of reporting that makes one's day:
"Breitbart’s defense of Trump has so far helped keep the Russia scandal from gaining traction on the right. But," writes Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, "that could swiftly change if Trump, under the influence of ['globalists' Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Gary Cohn and the 'hawk' H.R. McMaster], deviates too far from the positions he ran on. If that happens, said one high-level Breitbart staffer, 'We’re prepared to help Paul Ryan rally votes for impeachment.'"
Let the rallying begin.
Later today the president — partially under the influence of National Security Adviser McMaster — will renege on his "America First" pledge of "a speedy withdrawal" from Afghanistan. "Why should we keep wasting our money — rebuild the U.S.!" tweeted Trump in 2013. Throughout the presidential campaign, he similarly demagogued the quagmire as an Obama transgression against American interests. Now Trump is expected "to open the door to the deployment of several thousand troops" in Afghanistan — again, in part because of McMaster's advice.
Bannon's "war" against the national security adviser was already on prominent display in the latest edition of Breitbart's agitprop. One piece wails that "a source with direct knowledge of these matters tells Breitbart News that the senior staff at the White House, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, did not brief President Donald Trump on the collision the Navy destroyer USS John McCain had with an oil tanker near Singapore before he originally seemingly dismissed the incident saying, 'that’s too bad.'"
In another piece, Breitbart hilariously shrieks that "a book on terrorism [Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat] endorsed and touted by H.R. McMaster, the embattled White House National Security Adviser, calls on the U.S. military to respond to any 'desecrations' of the Quran by service members with an apology ceremony, and advocates kissing a new copy of the Quran before presenting the Islamic text to the local Muslim public." Adds Breibart: "McMaster provided a glowing blurb for the book jacket."
Bannon's war on McMaster has been, so far, only an indirect assault on Trump. The assault will transmute directly, however, as long as Trump retains McMaster, as well as other "globalists" and "hawks." For in Bannon's eyes, he and his propaganda rag "have a duty to the country to be the vanguard of 'The Movement.'"
Will — can — Trump permit the perception that he's being pushed around by the Movement's self-proclaimed leader? Will he cut McMaster & Friends lose and thereby allow that Bannon is effectively in charge? It is difficult to imagine Trump's ego bowing to such transparent pressure. Nobody tells the Donald what to do.
Hence what becomes rather easily imaginable is the fruition of Bannon & Breitbart's "preparation" — that of "help[ing] Paul Ryan rally votes for impeachment."
Sort of makes your day, does it not?
For days we have suffered a savage bombardment by cliché — the tiresome charge that Donald Trump lacks the "moral authority" to be president of the United States. This is of course true, if by morality one simply means human decency. He also lacks the necessary intelligence, competence and judgment to be president. In sum, Trump is presidentially lacking in every way, which most Americans understood from his political get-go. Clichéd salvos now clarify nothing in terms of Trump. What has been clarified is that the pathological absence of human decency should be the Republican Party's 2018 slogan.
Upon seeing headlines such as the AP's, "GOP Doubts and Anxieties about Trump Burst into the Open," one is at first teased into thinking that the above assessment is perhaps too dire. Maybe there exists — however narrowly targeted — some broad-based GOP decency after all. One then reads the AP's story, and one chastises oneself for having been so foolish. Those GOP doubts and anxieties bursting into the open are but mealy-mouthed whimperings voiced by a handful of Republican nobodies. Sen. Bob Corker remains the only GOP pol to state the resoundingly obvious: that Donald Trump is mentally unstable and dangerously incompetent.
The AP foregrounds its story by writing that "behind the high-profile denunciations" such as Corker's, "scores of other, influential Republicans … across nine states … expressed worries about whether Trump has the self-discipline and capability to govern successfully." We then learn that about half of these Republicans "insisted on anonymity" — thus their bursts into the open are closed — and that by "influential," the AP means insignificant.
The utterly forgettable and rudely ushered-out House majority leader Eric Cantor, for instance, tells the AP that Trump's Charlottesville remarks were "a turning point." An obscure "Georgia-based GOP operative who did not vote for Trump" says "It's impossible to see a scenario under which [Trump's administration] is sustainable under a four-year period." An Ohio Republican state treasurer candidate — to repeat, a state treasurer candidate — says "I was never one that was convinced that the president [could lead] but I was certainly willing to stand by the president on critical issues once he was elected. Now … that progress is all negated." (Say again?) A Kentucky Republican state senator — to repeat … oh, never mind — called Trump's Charlottesville comments "more than a gaffe." Another state senator, this one in South Carolina, says to Trump's "discredit, he's been maddeningly inconsistent in advancing [conservative] policies." And the chairman of Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District Republican Party — whoa! — says "the president remains an ill-artful, ill-timed speaker who uses Twitter too often."
Neither the currently serving U.S. House majority leader nor whip nor speaker nor Senate majority leader is quoted in condemnation of Trump, and for that matter, the above quotes aren't particularly condemnatory. "Importantly," adds the AP rather sheepishly, "the Republicans interviewed did not line up behind some course of action or an organized break with the president."
Why bother? The time for "some course of action" was when Trump led his racist campaign of birtherism — barring that, when he mocked a disabled reporter or when he bragged of grabbing pussy or when he called Obama the "founder of ISIS" or when he attacked a "Mexican" judge or when he made a presidential issue of his penis size or when, or when, or when.
What has been clarified, then, is merely what has been clarified time and again: that the pathological absence of human decency should be the Republican Party's 2018 slogan. I still suspect much of the party will come around — after Trump's sixth, tenth and fifteenth Charlottesville-like remarks — but its coming around will occur only as a self-serving, self-preserving phenomenon. It won't contain even a dram of the "moral authority" that Trump, too, has never possessed.
In this hilarious portent of more tick-tocking trouble for Trump, the very former White House strategist Steve Bannon says he said to the president upon his firing, "Look, I’ll focus on going after the establishment." The president said, "Good, I need that."
Because he's an imbecile, it doesn't seem to have occurred to Trump that he's the establishment now, and that Bannon, in relating their conversation to the Weekly Standard, was essentially announcing his coming war with the Trump administration — thus the president himself. Bannon's added assurance that "I’ll always be here covering for you" was akin to Hitler's promise to Stalin.
A Bannon friend and associate, in conversation with the Atlantic, clarified the thrust of "going after the establishment": "He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad."
Virtually anyone of any intelligence could see what's coming, which is why, perhaps, Trump couldn’t. Supremely ironic is that his chief of staff, John Kelly, wanted Bannon gone so that White House turmoil could be allayed. But firing Bannon has merely hurled the skunk outside the chicken coop, where he is free to roam and stink up whatever and whomever he loathes inside the administration.
Of course it’s also quite possible that Trump could indeed see the inevitable, but Bannon’s fame and credit-grabbing were simply too much for the narcissist in chief. If firing Bannon could appease Trump’s ego, then so be it; let the escalated turmoil rain down. What does Trump care? He adores anarchy; and besides, he’s not there to actually get things done. He’s just there to strut and swindle taxpayers out of jet fuel.
It’s also quite possible that Bannon soon realized that his barely muted threat of establishment-wrecking and administration-tackling would nonetheless go right over the president’s thick head; hence, to the Weekly Standard, he positively bellowed his present position.
“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over. We still have a huge movement,” said Bannon, “and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”
Now there’s an ego commensurate with Trump’s. With Bannon’s departure, Trump’s presidency is “over.” In imagining Trump’s fury in hearing that, I’m still smiling. What’s more, Bannon sees the White House from which he was just ejected as little more than a lingering conduit for his own political objectives — the movement’s objectives, that is, not Trump’s. To which I say, Why not? After all, Trump hasn’t any.
But back to the strategist’s friend, who so eloquently framed the Trump administration, post-Bannon: “This is gonna be really fucking bad … [We] have no idea.” Wrong, friend. It’s been really fucking bad all along. And once a U.S. president sympathizes and aligns with Nazis, can it really get any fucking worse?
"Get ready for Bannon the barbarian."
That's how one source close to Trump's essential barbarian puts it (although the barbarian appears to be anything but internally essential; "he has no projects or responsibilities to hand off" if he leaves the White House, says another source). The barbarian himself is pumped for some slash and burn, telling friends that "he is ready to go 'medieval' on enemies of Trump and his populist agenda."
All this according to Axios, which hedges its reporting on the anti-globalist pseudointellectual's immediate future. "Officials expect Bannon firing," although "Bannon might still survive," writes Axios' Jonathan Swan in a beautifully definitive … whatever. My question is, What difference does it make? Trump fires formal advisers only for them to become informal advisers: see Roger Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Anthony Scaramucci.
Those who don't wish to see Steve Bannon ever again are undoubtedly those among Trump's Potemkin village of military and diplomatic advisers. For in his chat with the American Prospect's Robert Kuttner, Bannon ill advisedly but utterly blew away the administration's myth of our superpower (or "hyperpower," as the Trumpian fascist Sebastian Gorka has sieg-heiled) over North Korea.
"There’s no military solution, forget it," said Bannon to Kuttner. "Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us."
Indeed they do, but that admission could not have sat well with either the cowardly tough guy in the Oval Office or those hired to maintain the myth of supreme and insurmountable American power. So my bet — Bannon is about to get the bloody axe.
Well, ahem, just as I clicked "publish" I looked at the TV screen and there was a chyron: "Bannon out after chaotic WH tenure." But from whom do I collect for this wasted post?
For Trump, the week thus far, post-pro-Nazism.
"Trump dismantled two CEO advisory panels on Wednesday as a growing number of chief executives announced their resignations" — Reuters
"Trump will not move forward with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday" — Bloomberg
"The remaining members of a presidential arts and humanities panel resigned on Friday" — Washington Post
Or, as Trump put it in February: "This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine."
Yes, it's this bad.
Pew Research finds that "around the world, few people trust Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs." A meager 26 percent "say they have confidence" in Putin.
Yet when the publics of Germany, France and Japan were asked whom they have "Confidence in to do the right thing regarding world affairs," Putin or Trump, the former scored higher by margins between 4 and 14 percent.
Which is to say, our strongest allies have more confidence in a Russian autocrat than in the sitting president of the United States. It's that bad.
Something is changing. There are shifts all around, portending an enlightened permanency. They're in the air, on the air, in print and in polling — and they're screaming that this country has just about had it with Trump. Irrevocably.
A small core of the fanatically loyal will hang on till the bitter end, of course, but an end there shall be, in either resignation or impeachment. Trump's party is already disgraced beyond redemption, but ultimately his loyal core will shrink to a stat of dismissibility — and then the GOP will pretend it's a party of noble indignation and inviolable standards. After all of Trump's lies and outrages and ineptitude and obstructions of justice, one would have thought that Charlottesville would have been the end. It was instead just another beginning, but this beginning appears to be one of permanent shifts.
Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and erstwhile defender of the Trumpian faith, has pronounced the president unstable and incompetent. Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina (as well as the Dixie state's senior senator, Lindsey Graham) has further pronounced him as lacking in moral clarity. Scott says he'll no longer "defend the indefensible."
The founder of the pro-Trump journal American Affairs, Julius Krein, has given up and is cashing it in. "I can’t stand by this disgraceful administration any longer," he writes in a NY Times op-ed. "His refusal this weekend to specifically and immediately denounce [neo-Nazis] was both morally disgusting and monumentally stupid." So was Krein's early defense and lingering support of Trump, but at any rate his belated disgust is one more leg kicked out from under Trump's editorial infrastructure.
Business leaders are fleeing this morally bankrupt and monumentally stupid president. The American Cancer Society and the Cleveland Clinic have both announced they are cancelling their 2018 fundraisers at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, and the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce has asked that others avoid the venue. An 86-year-old Kennedy Center recipient, dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade, says she'll decline the following White House reception "in light of the socially divisive and morally caustic narrative [of] our current leadership."
Said "leadership" has brought its chief of staff, John Kelly, to utter despair. He is reported "to be deeply frustrated and unsure how to contain his boss," who, as Kelly must know by now, is uncontainable in his deeply frustrating lunacy. Kelly's departure is all but certain. White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a Jew working for a neo-Nazi apologist, is said to be on the verge of quitting. The White House has released a statement on Cohn's tenure that says "Nothing has changed … [and] any reports to the contrary are 100 percent false," which virtually guarantees that the rumors are true. Michael Gerson observes: "Now the operative question is not 'Should Bannon leave?' It has become: 'Why should anyone not named Bannon stay at the White House?'" It's a snake pit of bigotry, lies, and propaganda so squalid it would make Baghdad Bob blush.
Trump's job approval rating has, in a mere seven months, dipped from a January "high" of 46 percent to the mid-30s. And the 20s are beckoning. (As is Bob Mueller.)
What is Trump's response to all the bleakness contained in all these shifts? Why, it's to tweet about the "beauty" of memorials to 19th-century traitors. He has reduced himself to the further irreducible: His freshly emphasized platform is that of neo-Confederacy and paeans to blood-and-soil nationalism.
As noted, the 20s are beckoning — because his shtick of perpetual outrage is getting old to all those beyond the psychologically diseased and deliriously loyal. Except in the most scarlet of congressional districts, Trump's support will wither to the point of diminishing returns for Republican congressfolk. And then the beginning will morph into the end; in fact, the portentous shifts are already in progress.
I didn't know who this miscreant was, but now that's not for me to worry. I'll never hear from him again — not after his gruesome, agonizing 8-minute execution at the hands of Velshi and Ruhle this morning.
Somebody get a mop. Blood everywhere.
E.J. Dionne wrote this conclusion for today's column, but it could apply to virtually any week of this most wretched of administrations:
"Every new Trump outrage seems to invite bold declarations that this time will be the end of the line. If this week’s spectacle of moral obtuseness isn’t the breaking point, may God save our republic."
Throughout most of Tuesday and well into Wednesday, I believed that Trump's obtuseness in defending neo-Nazis — neo-Nazis! for Christ's sake — would indeed be the end of the line. Here was an unimaginable low, even for Trump: equating a hateful ideology that murdered millions with the activists protesting it. Surely this time Republican pols would draw a line, and declare Trump at its end.
Instead, one could just about write the names of publicly outraged Republican pols on a postage stamp.
We all know that the GOP is sick, that it's been terribly sick for some time. But I would have never imagined that congressional Republicans would sink so far into such a massive suppuration of partisan vileness — that they, by and large, would forgive a U.S. president his outspoken neo-Nazi proclivities.
God save the republic? We'll be all right. Rather I might advise asking that God damn the GOP — although it seems he already has.
To this ghastly little man, it is inconceivable that a principle might have been raised. To him, it's merely but always about who won or lost an election.
What was it that incurred the malevolent toddler's wrath?
Sen. Graham had endorsed "light" over "darkness" — an abstraction quite baffling to ghastly little minds — and then observed to Trump, with indisputable objectivity, that "because of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country."
Excepting Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Fox & Friends' pro-Trump boners, I see no enthusiasm for the president's handling of the Charlottesville tragedy outside of neo-Nazis and KKKers and others among the profoundly developmentally arrested. This is what Graham sees, too. Trump? He only sees who won an election.
In reading clips of interviews with Steve Bannon, one sees why Donald Trump so admires the man. He is as muddle-headed, serpentine and cynical as Trump. Bannon's worldview appears to be purely opportunistic — a kind of pseudointellectualism grounded in nationalistic pablum: e.g., "the economic war with China is everything" — but it's so untethered from coherence that one is left wondering what in hell he is talking about.
Tuesday, as his boss was setting the country on fire, Bannon called The American Prospect's editor, the very progressive Robert Kuttner, in a transparent attempt to form an exceedingly odd political alliance. Flattering Trump had gotten Bannon into a White House job, so he assumed, I gather, that flattery would impress Mr. Kuttner as well. "It’s a great honor to finally track you down. I’ve followed your writing for years and I think you and I are in the same boat when it comes to China. You absolutely nailed it." Alas, Kuttner was not impressed. It is "puzzling," he writes, "that Bannon would phone a writer and editor of a progressive publication … and assume that a possible convergence of views on China trade might somehow paper over the political and moral chasm on white nationalism." Not so puzzling, really, when the caller has the ethics of a signatory of the 1939 Non-Aggresssion Pact.
At any rate, Bannon proceeded in the interview to obscure that on which his reputation rests: "He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it," says Kuttner. Or, as Bannon put it: "Ethno-nationalism — it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more." Added Bannon: "These guys are a collection of clowns."
While that is unquestionably true, it is also unquestionable that Bannon would not so label them in any interview with, say, Breitbart. Which does Bannon actually believe? That is anyone's guess. He himself may not know. In the valueless world of political opportunism, one merely says what one must, depending on one'a audience.
Once Bannon had endeavored to enlist Kuttner's help in "crushing" the media's fixation on the right's clownish fringe, he switched to just how one could "crush the Democrats." (The White House strategist is really in to the "crushing" of folks; he also noted that China is "crushing" us.) "The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em," said Bannon. "I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats."
In a subsequent interview with the NY Times, Bannon reiterated, "Just give me more [of the left's race-identity politics]. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it." He then elaborated through twist and invention. "President Trump, by asking, 'Where does this all end' — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — connects with the American people about their history, culture and traditions."
Bannon's additive of "Lincoln" was of course meant to gussy up the president's butchering of history. It seems not to have struck Bannon, however, that Lincoln's objective was to end the American "culture and traditions" of human bondage — the Civil War being the nation's ultimate exercise in "race-identity politics." Where will it all end, indeed.
But, what the hell. For Bannon & Boss, American history, culture and traditions are malleable things not to be taken seriously. And if a bit of that old-time national religion — white supremacy — can assist in Bannon & Boss's political objective of "crushing Democrats," so be it, bring it on, this two-man collection of clowns can't get enough of it.
In sum, assessing "the true" Bannon is like nailing sludge to the wall. Yes, it can be done. Aside from the president, he is the superlative dreck of Republican politics — pseudoconservative, pseudointellectual, authentically cynical to the core — and astoundingly mistaken (if he even believes it) as to the future of American politics. For a 38-year-old Oklahoma Republican politician, also in conversation with the NY Times, blew away Bannon & Boss with exceptional ease:
"The last year and especially the last few days have basically erased 15 years of efforts by Republicans to diversify the party. If I tried to sell young people in general but specifically minority groups on the Republican Party today, I’d expect them to laugh me out of the room. How can you not be concerned when the country’s demographics are shifting away from where the Republican Party seems to be shifting now?"