That’s the only word I can think of to describe the second Republican presidential debate, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley. The crosstalk. The weird answers. The staging. It was just … unwatchable, at least for the first hour. The second hour was a little better but I suspect many people had tuned out after the opening train wreck. The last five minutes were probably the best, if you made it that far.
The real question entering the debate was whether these exercises are now academic, with former President Trump leading the field by such a wide margin nationally and in the early-voting states (albeit by slightly smaller margins in Iowa and New Hampshire than the national samples). Can any other candidate’s words or one-liners make up the difference?
It’s obvious the Republican zeitgeist has shifted. No longer is electability a question that resonates for GOP voters. They have clearly decided that Trump is the most electable Republican running.
In poll after poll, Trump scores the highest when Republicans are asked who they believe is most likely to defeat President Biden. For months, the theory was that though they might love Trump, eventually their desire to defeat Biden would lead them to a more electable candidate.
But it just hasn’t happened. Trump has used his numerous indictments like rocket fuel, rallying supporters and racing so far ahead of his opponents that they can barely see him. Heck, they physically can’t see him at all — he doesn’t even respect them enough to show up and debate.
Interestingly, rather than Trump himself, the Washington Post and ABC News may have delivered the felling stroke to the other GOP campaigns in a poll released Sunday showing the former president beating the incumbent by 10 points in a general election matchup! (I won’t dwell on it here, but there is no doubt that Biden is having a high-speed come-apart if you look under the hood of all these polls, even the ones showing a closer horse race.)
Although it is magical thinking to believe that either Trump or Biden can win a general election in these polarized times by 10 points, the Post/ABC poll — along with several others showing Trump tied or slightly ahead — is evidence enough to Republicans that the American people are ready to deliver vindication to their world view.
And that’s elemental: Republicans desperately want vindication. For all of it. For the Russia investigation. For the impeachments. For the indictments. For the 2020 election. For Jan. 6. For Biden’s presidency. They want one big apocalyptic contest that they think will deliver what they want to hear: Trump. Was. Right.
The Republican Party, remade by Trump, has long wanted this showdown. True, voters were momentarily worried after the Jan. 6 riot that Trump was damaged goods, but they quickly set that view aside as Trump spun a narrative that it really wasn’t all that bad.
Then they were worried after the GOP’s disappointing showing in the November 2022 midterms that perhaps Trump had lost his touch. Or that his touch was toxic. But Trump succeeded at changing the subject by entering the presidential campaign well before the candidate who was supposed to be his strongest challenger, Trump without the baggage: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Just as he did after Jan. 6 — after the Senate Republicans refused to convict him in the second impeachment trial — a wounded Trump has used his time wisely and re-coagulated like the bad guy in “Terminator 2,” while DeSantis waited in the wings until late May.
Then came the indictments. Many ask why DeSantis is faltering. I would submit that he’s not; instead, Trump is soaring. The indictments have given GOP voters a reminder of why they fell for Trump in the first place: They believe a cabal of “elites” are rigging everything in America against them, and against their champion, just as he always told them.
The 2024 Republican primary has entered a post-policy phase. There’s no doubt that DeSantis has been a fantastic conservative political and policy success in Florida; a Republican governor who has gotten results. Or that former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is a polished presence. Or that South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is one of the most inspirational Republicans in Washington.
But for the Republican Party now, no one can deliver the vindication that Trump can, should he defeat Biden in 2024. For Trump to win a national election after everything that has happened would be, for the voters who have stuck with him since 2016, sweet revenge on the legacy media, on Democrats and on those who sit atop the institutions they have come to at best distrust and at worst despise.
Is the primary over? No. People have to vote, and it is Iowa or bust for DeSantis and all the rest. And the Iowa caucuses have seen late-breaking shifts in the past. And maybe my fellow Republicans at some point will think more seriously about what might happen if we nominate a man who could be a convicted felon by Inauguration Day in 2025.
But don’t bet on second thoughts. Trump looks strong now and Biden looks weak, a state of nirvana for most Republican voters.
Scott Jennings is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and a senior CNN political commentator. @ScottJenningsKY
Gold bars stashed in Dem senator’s home recovered after 2013 violent robbery
Several gold bars discovered by federal agents in Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s residence as part of a high-profile bribery investigation can be traced to a violent robbery a decade ago.
According to a sprawling indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors in September, Menendez and his wife allegedly played a role in a years-long bribery scheme that involved the Egyptian government and local businessmen including Fred Daibes, a wealthy New Jersey real estate developer. Prosecutors revealed they retrieved multiple gold bars from Menendez’s home which were allegedly used as payment in the scheme.
At least four of the gold bars discovered by investigators can be linked to Daibes, both because of their unique engraved serial numbers and thanks to court documents related to a 2013 robbery which Daibes was a victim of, an NBC New York investigation revealed Monday. In November 2013, four assailants beat and robbed Daibes at gunpoint in his Edgewater, New Jersey, apartment, stealing 22 gold bars, jewelry and cash.
“Each gold bar has its own serial number,” Daibes told local investigators in a 2014 transcript obtained by NBC New York. “They’re all stamped … you’ll never see two stamped the same way.”
5 EXPLOSIVE REVELATIONS FROM DEM SEN BOB MENENDEZ’S BOMBSHELL FEDERAL INDICTMENT
Photographs released by the Department of Justice in September showing the gold bars discovered at Menendez’s home, for example, reveal one of the bars has a serial number of “590005.” Daibes reported a gold bar with that same serial number stolen during the 2013 heist, NBC New York reported.
And the federal indictment notes that the serial numbers on the gold bars indicate they had previously been possessed by Daibes.
MSNBC’S ALICIA MENENDEZ ADDRESSES FATHER’S INDICTMENT: COLLEAGUES HAVE ‘AGGRESSIVELY’ COVERED
“A court-authorized search of the residence of Robert Menendez and Nadine Menendez, a/k/a ‘Nadine Arslanian,’ the defendants, revealed, among other things, approximately two one-kilogram gold bars and nine one-ounce gold bars that had serial numbers indicating they had previously been possessed by Fred Daibes, the defendant,” the indictment states.
In addition, when Daibes reported the robbery to police in 2013, he said 22 gold bars had been taken. Similarly, the September indictment states that Daibes sold 22 gold bars to Wael Hana, another defendant allegedly implicated in the bribery scheme.
Police ultimately arrested and charged four individuals for robbing Daibes in 2013, according to local media reports. Then, in September 2015, the suspects all pled guilty and were ultimately sentenced to several months in prison.
Meanwhile, since the federal bribery indictment was unsealed earlier this year, Menendez has repeatedly asserted his innocence and remained in the Senate.
CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“The allegations leveled against me are just that, allegations,” Menendez said Sept. 25. “For anyone who has known me throughout my 50 years of public service, they know I have always fought for what is right. My advocacy has always been grounded. And what I learned from growing up as the son of Cuban refugees, especially my mom, my hero, Evangelina Menendez. Everything I accomplished, I worked for despite the nay sayers and everyone who has underestimated me.
“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” he added. “The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system. We cannot set aside the presumption of innocence for political expediency when the harm is irrevocable.”
George Santos movie in development at HBO from the makers of ‘Veep’ and ‘Succession’
Former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) is getting the movie treatment at HBO after getting booted from Congress last week.
The Warner Bros. Discovery-owned premium cable giant confirmed Monday that it has optioned the rights to author Mark Chiusano’s nonfiction book “The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos.”
Frank Rich, known for his work as an executive producer on the Emmy-winning TV satires “Veep” and “Succession,” is executive producing the film adaptation, but in a non-writing capacity, according to the company.
The studio has tapped “Bad Education” screenwriter Mike Makowsky to write and executive produce the picture.
HBO’s announcement comes less than a week after Santos was expelled from the House of Representatives, becoming the sixth lawmaker ever to be forced out of the legislative chamber.
The politician was ousted by his colleagues after a House Ethics Committee report determined that he had lied about his background, defrauded donors and used campaign money to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included Botox injections, personal travel and subscriptions on OnlyFans.
The ex-lawmaker has also been indicted on felony counts of wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. He has denied wrongdoing and criticized the move to expel him before his case goes to trial.
Billed as a “forensic and darkly comic” dramatization of Santos’ bid for Congress, the HBO film will chronicle “the Gatsby-esque journey of a man from nowhere who exploited the system, waged war on truth and swindled one of the wealthiest districts in the country to achieve his American dream,” according to the project’s official logline.
This isn’t the first time Hollywood has mined Santos’ highly publicized saga for entertainment. The latest installment of “Saturday Night Live” opened with a humorous farewell to Santos — or rather, to cast member Bowen Yang’s beloved portrayal of him.
“This entire country has been bullying me just because I’m a proud, gay thief,” Yang’s Santos said during the sketch. “But what else is new? America hates to see a Latina queen winning.”
Times staff writer Erin B. Logan contributed to this report.
Video: White House Urges Congress to Approve More Funding for Ukraine
new video loaded: White House Urges Congress to Approve More Funding for Ukraine
White House Urges Congress to Approve More Funding for Ukraine
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said that improper funding would jeopardize Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia.
Without congressional action, the administration will run out of resources by the end of the year to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine, and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks without impacting our own military readiness. The resources Congress has provided for Ukraine and other national security needs have halted Russia’s advances in Ukraine, helped Ukraine achieve significant military victories, including taking back more than 50 percent of the territory that Russia had previously occupied. And by revitalizing our own defense industrial base, jumpstarting and expanding production lines and supporting good-paying jobs across the country. Now it’s up to Congress. Congress has to decide whether to continue to support the fight for freedom in Ukraine as part of the 50-nation coalition that President Biden has built, or whether Congress will ignore the lessons we’ve learned from history and let Putin prevail. It is that simple. It is that stark a choice. And we hope that Congress on a bipartisan basis, will make the right choice.
Recent episodes in Ukraine Crisis
Dallas should work to keep Mavericks in the city, council members say
3 airlifted to hospital after Miami Gardens crash possibly involving officer
Boston-based Dotmatics helping scientists make better drugs in less time using AI
Keeler: Deion Sanders, CU Buffs can do so much better than Pat Shurmur calling plays in 2024
Reality is Seattle Seahawks have no choice but to be playoff team
Colorado Rockies game no. 116 thread: Zac Gallen vs José Ureña
See it: Tesla crashes into Columbus convention center at 70 mph
Fox News Politics: Georgia the whole day through
Death of missing Oregon girl found in stream ruled homicide
At least 2 dead as tornadoes hit Alabama, damage homes across Southeast
Gold bars stashed in Dem senator’s home recovered after 2013 violent robbery
Double-decker bus slams into tree in Thailand, killing 14
New rules on tourist flights seek to return some serenity to national parks
December deadlines: Things are a little different around Capitol Hill before the Christmas cutoff
‘Win-win’: UK set to return to key EU research programme on 1 January
Culture1 week ago
Finding a Moral Center in This Era of War
Technology1 week ago
The best Black Friday deals you can still get for under $25
Politics1 week ago
Trudeau blames ‘right-wing, American MAGA’ after Canadian Conservative Party votes against Ukraine bill
Movie Reviews1 week ago
‘Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé’ Review: An Intimate Yet Extravagant Exploration Of Beyoncé’s Latest World Tour
Movie Reviews1 week ago
Dream Scenario movie review: (un)likely boogeyman – FlickFilosopher.com
Politics1 week ago
Senator presses Army over backpay, religious freedoms for soldiers discharged for COVID vaccine refusal
Politics1 week ago
Biden tries to hide away in Nantucket but can’t escape pro-Palestinian protesters
Science7 days ago
Backlash to affirmative action hits pioneering maternal health program for Black women