Over the past several days, newly public reporting has revealed that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy harshly criticized Donald Trump after the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us,” McConnell, then majority leader, told advisers. McCarthy was caught on tape saying that he would push Trump to resign.
As my colleague David Graham wrote last week, when McConnell and McCarthy shrug off concerns about January 6 now, “they are committing an act of moral and political cowardice.” Perhaps they feel like they can’t criticize Trump, because doing so has cost other Republican candidates and leaders (hello, Liz Cheney).
But as our staff writer Mark Leibovich argues, in the 2024 presidential primaries, “some nervy Republican challenger” just might come out on top by calling the former president a loser. Trump’s dominance is only part of the conventional political wisdom that our writers think is due for a shake-up.
- Trump can be toppled. “If it was true in 2016 that other Republicans couldn’t touch Trump, it’s not necessarily so now, given the win-loss record he has since accumulated,” Mark writes.
- Candidates with shady pasts could win—or lose—the Senate for the GOP. “In the Trump era, no one knows where, or whether, voters will draw a line on candidates who might have been unacceptable in the past,” our staff writer Russell Berman notes.
- Democrats win when they get off the high road. After a colleague accused Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow of grooming children, she fought back. “McMorrow proved that rebuttal can be done effectively—and she succeeded because her rebuke rested on a personal narrative,” our contributing writer Molly Jong-Fast argues.
Further reading: America’s political dysfunction is turning school boards away from the business of schooling, my colleague Adam Harris writes.
The rest of the news in three sentences:
Latest dispatches: Non-fungible tokens are coming for New York’s nightclub scene—but money can’t buy cool, and never could, Xochitl Gonzalez argues in the latest Brooklyn, Everywhere. And in Up for Debate, Conor Friedersdorf asks readers: What types of speech should Twitter forbid, specifically?
Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity: Do a puzzle. Hopefully you’ll finish before the world ends.