Last weekend's political miracle – The Atlantic

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The House's passage of the Ukrainian aid package last weekend was an extraordinary sign of political courage. But in Donald Trump's party, this victory for democracy may soon seem like a mirage.

(For more reading on Mike Johnson's speakingship and what the weekend's success meant to him, I recommend “The Accidental Speaker,” a profile by Elaina Blatt Calabro published today. Atlantic.)

First, three new stories from this Atlantic:

A political mirage

The wonders, called Fata Morgana, named after the character Morgan le Fay of Arthurian legend, are extraordinary sightings. When the atmospheric conditions are right, the rays of light bend and transform boats, islands, mountains and coastlines before the viewer's eyes. Despite their beauty, these wonders soon fade away – which brings me to a remarkable display at the House this weekend.

On Saturday, Republican Speaker Mike Johnson faced down threats from his party's Trumpist isolationist faction and handed Democratic forces a bipartisan victory. The $61 billion Ukrainian aid package passed with more than 300 votes—a final total of 311–112–101 GOP votes and the support of every Democrat in the House. The bill, which is expected to be approved by the Senate soon and signed by President Joe Biden, will provide critical support to embattled Ukrainians at what appears to be a decisive moment in the battle against Vladimir Putin and his army of invaders.

The vote was a sharp rebuke to the MAGA world and its leader. “Ukraine won,” wrote David Frum Atlantic This weekend. “Trump lost.”

We also got a rare glimpse of political courage. For months, Johnson stalled legislation to help Ukraine, and his delays contributed to the unconscionable loss of Ukrainian lives as Russia rained death on Ukraine's cities. His change of heart was surprisingly well received. Despite his ideological shift Described as an evolution, it felt like a go-to-Damascus moment. Johnson, who had played Neville Chamberlain for months, suddenly sounded almost Churchillian.

“History judges us for what we do,” he said last week. “It's an important time right now. I could have made a selfish decision and done something else. But I'm doing what I believe is right here.

Unlike most of his party's leaders, Johnson remained focused For foreign policy experts, heeded the pleas of US allies, trusting the intelligence community more than Putin. “I really believe in Intel” Johnson said. “I think Vladimir Putin will march across Europe if allowed. I think he might go to the Baltics next. I think he might go into conflict with Poland or our NATO allies.

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Johnson knew that decision would cost him the speakership. In this era of GOP political cowardice, his position felt deeply countercultural.

Similarly, the House made a rare display of bipartisanship. The House Republican leadership (notably except for the New York representative and vice presidential wannabe Elise Stefanik) worked with Democrats to stand up for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

After years of dominating the public narrative, the GOP's most radical artists are isolating themselves and voting. Insult after insult followed for Marjorie Taylor Green Accumulated on her; His revisions (including one Sponsored by “Space Laser Technology”. on the southern border) were widely ridiculed and then overwhelmingly defeated. Even Fox News seemed to turn on her, Publishes a strong opinion version Calling her “an idiot” trying to destroy the GOP with “her flamboyant self-serving display and drama queen energy.”

The separatists expressed their anger in a show of support for Ukraine, including waving Ukrainian flags on the House floor. “Such an embarrassing and disgusting show of America's last politicians!” Representative Posted by Lauren Bobert from Colorado. “You love Ukraine so much, get your ass over there and leave America to those who love this country!”

And yet, for a few hours, Congressional Republicans were almost a functional, rational, governing political party that saw America as the defender of democracy against authoritarian encroachment. It was the party that Ronald Reagan would have endorsed. But curb your excitement, because we've mostly seen nothing but political fata morgana.

After all, this is still the party of Donald Trump.

In the days leading up to his legislative defeat, Trump tried to soften his message a bit, Posting in the True Community He also wanted to help Ukraine. “As everyone agrees,” he wrote, “Ukrainian survival and strength must be more important to Europe than to us, but it is important to us too!”

In his recent essay, Frum noted that Trump's statement was “post-truth face-saving, jumping to victory when his side was about to lose.” (Perhaps the weirdest spin came from Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham, who went on Fox News. persuasion “It wouldn't have happened without Donald Trump.”)

But there is no doubt what Trump's election means for Russia, Ukraine or NATO. We have precious little evidence that the GOP will ever push back against one President Trump will work with Putin against our allies and our own intelligence agencies.

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The GOP's directional arrow remains unchanged: A majority of House Republicans voted against aid to Ukraine (among Republicans, 101 for and 112 against); A majority of Senate Republicans are likely to vote no.

The regression to the right is just beginning. In reference, the Flying monkeys The MAGAverse quickly came out against Johnson and the Ukraine package. After voting, Green declared Johnson was not simply “a traitor to our convention,” but actually “a traitor to our country,” whose free speech was “finished.” she Constantly threatening It could throw the GOP back into chaos and dysfunction to bring about a movement to vacate the chair.

Senator Mike Lee has spoken out against this What he called “Wish List of Militants” passed by the Council. Condemnations of Johnson's “treason” and calls for his removal flooded right-wing social media. Donald Trump Jr. was impeached A barrage attack Against Johnson and the Ukraine bill, he is called “Garbage Bill” When posting His support For Greene's efforts to derail it.

Meanwhile, Republican anarchist Steve Bannon is intensifying his attacks on Republicans who voted for the package. “Traitors One and All” The former White House aide wrote on his Gettr account. Bannon called Johnson a “holy twerp” who “sold out his country in favor of global elites.”

Trump ally Charlie Kirk punished: “Not only are the DC GOP bringing the country down with their anti-American activities, they are participating in the end of the constitutional order as we know it.”

In a rational party, these would be voices from the fringes. But Greene, Don Jr., Kirk and Bannon still represent the GOP's ID because they have Trump's ear and are much closer to the heart of the MAGA base than international Republicans like Nikki Haley, Liz Cheney and Mike Pence. They are all Republican exiles. In A recent Gallup pollJust 15 percent of Republican voters said they think the U.S. isn't doing enough to help Ukraine, while a strong majority of 57 percent think we're doing too much.

Despite the illusion of a rational foreign policy and last weekend's glow of courage and independence, Johnson and the rest of the GOP convention are sure to rally to support Trump. As he stands trial on multiple criminal charges, Republicans are lining up to pledge their loyalty to the former president, whether or not he is convicted; New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and former Attorney General Bill Barr are the only recent Republicans to bend the knee.

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In a few months, my hometown of Milwaukee will host Trump's re-coronation of the GOP, reaffirming his absolute grip on the mind and soul of the party. By then, what happened this weekend will seem like a distant mirage.


Today's news

  1. Prosecutors made their claim at Trump's hush-money trial in New York Opening statements Today.
  2. Chief of the Intelligence Directorate of the Israeli Army He resignedCiting his department's failure to predict the October 7 attack by Hamas.
  3. Hundreds of faculty members from Columbia University attended An outing Protesting the administration's decision to call in police officers who arrested more than 100 students for a pro-Palestinian demonstration last week.


  • The Wonder Reader: Being busy has become a status symbol, writes Isabel Fatal. What do we lose when we focus on productivity above all else?

Explore all of our newsletters here.

Evening reading

Cavan Pictures / Alamy

Regenerating a wetland is very difficult

By Erica Keyes

Water in California's San Francisco Bay could rise by more than two meters by 2100. For the region's tidal marshes and their inhabitants, such as Ridgway's rail and the endangered salt-marsh harvest mouse, this is a potential death sentence…

San Francisco Bay needs 545 million tons of dirt by 2100 to keep its marshes above water. However, for restorationists who want to rebuild wetlands lost to development and strengthen those that remain, getting enough sediment is a hurdle: the next challenge. A way to provide it without crushing the ecosystem they are trying to protect.

Read the full article.

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A man wearing gloves looks at an exhibition in a model-art gallery featuring 80 original miniature works of art.
Christopher Pledger / Ivine / Redux

enjoying “The miniatures imitate life, but have no clear practical purpose,” writes Gisela Salim-Bayer. Here's the case for why small art deserves more attention.

According to “Kiel,” Jose A. Poem by Rodriguez:

“Most flies don't come out on the long edge of the screen door. / At the classroom door, a smooth and tight fit.”

Play our daily crossword.

Stephanie Boye contributed to this newsletter.

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