Hey y’all it’s Tim in for JVL today. The head man will be back tomorrow.
1. David McCormick’s Dignity Was First To Leave
Watching people of stature—titans of industry, high-ranking diplomats, Ivy Leaguers with doctorates in their subject of expertise—sacrifice every ounce of their dignity at the feet of a racist carnival barker will never really cease to amaze. No matter how many times we have witnessed it over the years, the spectacle is still so obscene that one struggles to look away.
As such, this weekend our collective gaze turned with a sense of vicarious embarrassment to GOP Senate candidate David McCormick.
If you aren’t familiar with this particular Master of the Universe, I encourage you to read my profile on him from back in January and Joshua Green’s excellent take out last week.
But the tl;dr on McCormick is this:
McCormick was the CEO of the world’s largest hedge fund and is married to Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell, one of the people who haughtily proclaimed they were “saving America” by going to work for Donald Trump. He is the kind of person who sits on high as a trustee of the Aspen Institute where he gathers his fellow members of the international elite to stroke their chins as they discuss the value of creative disruption and the need for bipartisan consensus in Washington. He has amassed the kind of wealth a person couldn’t spend if they tried. He could do anything he wanted in life. Buy an island. Or a sports team. Become a Hollywood producing magnate. He could pay for every graduate of Bloomsburg High School to go to college for a generation.
But with the entire world as his oyster, McCormick decided that the job he wanted was United States senator. And to be a senator in the GOP these days, sucking up to Trump is the ante. So McCormick hired many of his wife’s former Trump administration coworkers up to and including the white nationalist sympathizing Stephen Miller to help him go “Full MAGA.”
Multiple sources relayed to me that McCormick has told friends he would court Trump, but was drawing a line at advancing the Big Lie about the 2020 election. As it turns out the line he has drawn is so thin as to be barely visible by the human eye—which Green discovered in his interview with the candidate during which McCormick repeatedly retreated to expressing concerns about election “irregularities” and reiterated that the voters’ “doubts” should be taken seriously.
As recently as last Wednesday, Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey said McCormick was having lunch on the patio at Mar-a-Lago with Hope Hicks in his feverish attempt to suck up to the man who invented the Big Lie that he finds so distasteful (in private) and the resulting insurrection (that he publicly called a “horrific and dark chapter”).
The scene on that patio is quite the image to conjure in your head. There’s McCormick sweating profusely as he eats a rock-hard steak in a gaudy-ass club, being made to wait for the opportunity for an audience with Trump, who delights as this Big Man calls him “sir” in the hopes that the Orange God-King might look with favor upon his candidacy.
And what did McCormick get for all that humiliation? What did he get for hiring the most deplorable of Trump’s hangers on? For schlepping to Cougarville to beg like a dog?
Shunned in polite society, obviously.
But also: rejected in humiliating fashion by the man he courted.
On Saturday Donald Trump passed over David McCormick to endorse fellow huckster, Dr. Oz.
You hate to see it. You really do.
2. Senate Map for Dummies
What does Oz’s ascendance in the Pennsylvania GOP primary mean for the Senate as a whole? It is a modest green shoot in what remains a tough environment for the Democrats.
Here’s a Readers Digest run-down of what you should know about the Senate map as things stand today. I’m going to periodically pop-in for JVL over the next few months and update this breakdown to provide you with your horse-race fix.
Current Senate: 50/50, Democrats have the tie-breaker.
Potential Democratic Pick-ups:
Tier A: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin,
Tier B: (Empty Set)
Tier C: Ohio, Florida, North Carolina
Tier G(OP Faceplant): Missouri
Potential Republican Pickups:
Tier A: Georgia, Nevada, Arizona
Tier B: New Hampshire
Tier G(OP Tsunami): Colorado
Pennsylvania: If you are a reader of this newsletter you know about John Fetterman. He’s currently up big on the great moderate hope Conor Lamb in the Democratic Senate primary. Assuming that holds (it’s early, it may not), Oz presents a much better match-up for Fetterman than McCormick does, so the Trump news is a little boost for the Dems here. As a reference point: an internal poll leaked by the Lamb Super PAC showed Fetterman +9 on Oz but -3 to McCormick.
Wisconsin: Basically every Democrat or anti-Ron Johnsonite who reaches out to me to discuss this race is panicked about Mandela Barnes, the progressive rising star leading Democratic polls. Charlie explained why back in January. The polls have begun to narrow, but Barnes is benefitting from a crowded opposition splitting the vote. Self-funding Alex Lasry is currently in second and the candidates who seem to be the most electable are in the bunch: Sarah Godlewski and moderate Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson are trailing behind.
N.B.1: Outagamie is a great county name.
N.B. 2: Godlewski’s “Meet Sarah” page is both a perfect example for how a progressive Democrat should message their campaign this year while also being a reminder of JVL’s Law of Being Screwed No Matter What.
Georgia: I just want to use this space to make sure everyone is mentally prepared for Senator Herschel Walker.
The insurrectionist Russian Roulette enthusiast has led Raphael Warnock in every poll of the Peach State except one, put out by left-wing PPP.
Nevada: The lowest profile major Senate rate in the country, Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeira began sounding alarm bells about the state and Sen. Cortez-Masto’s chances last week.
If I were setting a spread for the Senate right now it would be Republicans +2.5 seats and -300 to take the Senate. (If that’s Greek to you, Sports Odds for Dummies.)
To hit the over Republicans would need to sweep both sets of Tier A races or drop one and pick up New Hampshire/Colorado instead. I’m a slight lean towards the under because it’s hard to imagine that Republicans don’t butt fumble one of those 5.
A Democratic hold in the Senate requires more than 1 butt fumble. They need to find a way to win 3 out of the 5 Tier A races. The fact that Biden won all 5 of those states in 2020 makes the task seem achievable. On the other hand Biden is currently underwater in New Jersey. So . . .
3. IMPROMPTU BOOK CLUB!
This weekend I began reading To Paradise, a three-part epic by the amazing Hanya Yanagihara, author of the most gut-wrenching novel in history, A Little Life.
And at the end of a spicy weekend Bulwark Podcast that you should totes listen to, I had a momentary flight of fancy and told Charlie that I wanted to start an impromptu, informal To Paradise book club to combat my burgeoning TikTok habit and long-standing Twitter addiction.
A lot of people emailed and DM’d with interest in this!
As a result I have started this Triad discussion thread to meet the demand! My plan is to do one post for each of the three sections and we can chat about it together in the comments. In each post I’ll write a few prompts for discussion and update on my page progress so y’all don’t spoil anything, but besides that it can be an open forum. The discussion thread for To Paradise will live over in The Triad’s corner of the Bulwark+ site.
This is a totally on-the-fly test. If it’s fun maybe we’ll keep it going and if it just doesn’t work, that’s okay. We will have still enjoyed what should be a wonderful piece of fiction together.
"the voters’ “doubts” should be taken seriously."
This kills me every time I see or hear it, because you know which voters the GOP thinks shouldn't be taken seriously? The ones who voted for Biden!!
You hate to see it. https://tenor.com/bA0ad.gif