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The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Marjorie Taylor Greene says she’s the GOP base, not the fringe. We’ll see in 2022.

The Daily 202

A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. Via the Associated Press: On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln called for the abolition of slavery in his Second Annual Message to Congress. “Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves,” he said.

The big idea

MTG says she’s the GOP base, not the fringe. We’ll see in 2022.

A lot of important things happened Tuesday: We learned more about the omicron variant, Russia and NATO traded angry words over Ukraine, the Federal Reserve expressed new worries about inflation, and so on. But let’s talk about an ugly Twitter spat between lawmakers.

The online fight between Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Nancy Mace (S.C.), both not quite through their first year in office, was personal and pointed. And it illustrated the explosive Republican intraparty tensions that will shape both the 2022 midterm elections and how the House will function (or not function) if the GOP retakes the majority.

McCarthy's quandary

It also highlights Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s unwillingness to publicly rein in — and, indeed, his inclination to embrace — some of the more outrageous members of his caucus as he chases control of the chamber and the speaker’s gavel.

Asked about the online feud and the task ahead for McCarthy, Michael Steel, who served as press secretary for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), turned to an image he has used more than a few times recently to explain GOP infighting going into an election year. 

“McCarthy’s job is getting the Republicans from minority to majority, so he’s focused on addition not subtraction,” Steel told The Daily 202. “That means keeping all the frogs in the wheelbarrow even if some of those frogs are pretty ugly.”

The Daily 202 takes no position on the relative pulchritude of metaphorical amphibians. But Greene and Mace mixed it up after Mace denounced coarsely anti-Muslim comments from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), another first-year lawmaker.

Greene called Mace “the trash in the GOP Conference,” used an Islamophobic term, told her colleague “your [sic] out of your league,” and accused her of being “pro-abort.” (Mace has related she supports rape and incest exemptions from abortion bans because she was raped in high school.)

Mace corrected Greene’s spelling error, made one of her own, called Greene a 9/11 truther and even used emoji to dub the Georgia lawmaker something my editor won’t let me spell out in full, so here’s the tweet:

Mace tweeted she had spoken to McCarthy. “We spent time talking about solving problems not only in the conference, but for our country. I like what he has planned ahead.”

Greene countered: “Just had a great conversation with President Trump about @NancyMace. I absolutely love President Trump. He’s our leader!”

As they say in video games, “choose your fighter.”

You can't overlook casual Islamophobia from elected officials. But it’s what Greene tweeted later that caught my eye as a matter of political analysis.

“There are a lot of people that need to hear this. We Conservatives in the @HouseGOP aren’t the fringe. We actually represent the base of Republican voters, which is approximately 70%. And when the party learns to represent Conservative Americans, we will never lose again.”

Not so fringe-y

The fringe versus base debate has been going on since November 2020. But you probably know it by its other name: The “is the GOP still former president Donald Trump’s party? Yes, it is” analysis.

It’s not an idle question, even if it gets asked a lot. Republicans love polls showing voter dissatisfaction with President Biden and hope Trump’s energy will power them to congressional majorities. Democrats root for Greene-style candidates to carry GOP primaries then fall flat in the general and hope independents remember why they voted for the current administration.

There’s precedent. In 2010, one of the most favorable political environments for Republicans in years, GOP primary voters in Delaware resoundingly rejected Rep. Mike Castle, a veteran of the state’s political scene, in favor of tea party darling Christine O’Donnell. O’Donnell went on to get routed by Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.).

Democrats would love nothing better than for voters to see Greene not as a fringe GOP element — whom the House stripped of committee assignments in a bipartisan vote earlier this year in response to her past extremist and racist statements — but as the base. Same goes for Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), recently censured and removed from committees for posting an anime video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging swords at Biden.

As for McCarthy, who hasn’t publicly weighed in on the latest GOP family dispute, the post-midterm math will be crucial. If Republicans romp to, say, a 30-seat majority — capturing swing districts — then he won’t constantly have to worry what the Greenes and Gosars think. If it’s narrow, he will have to reckon with their influence.

If he gets the speakership, which is a big if.

After all, Greene has laid out conditions for him to meet.

What's happening now

Meadows vs. Trump on when the ex-pres knew he was covid positive

Trump tested positive for coronavirus before first debate with Biden, former chief of staff says

In his forthcoming book, former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows wrote that “Trump first tested positive for the virus on Sept. 26, three days before his Sept. 29 debate with Joe Biden. Trump would not disclose a positive test until Oct. 2, shortly after which he became quite ill and was airlifted to a hospital, where he received experimental treatments and recovered. Meadows reported that Trump took another test at the time, which came back negative,” Aaron Blake explains. The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly broke the story.

An important caveat is how much we can rely Meadows's account. As Politico’s Tim Alberta wrote after Trump fell ill with covid last fall, “Nobody could have predicted, when the chief of staff took over in March, that his own personal track record of unreliability would intersect so serendipitously with the Trump administration’s inability to shoot straight.”

Trump denied Meadows’s allegation in a Wednesday morning statement, but the former president stopped short of saying he did not test positive:

Felicia Sonmez has more details here.

Government nears weekend shutdown as Republicans take aim at vaccine and testing mandates

Uh oh: “Entering the week, Democrats and Republicans initially had hoped to fund the government before a current spending arrangement expires on Friday,” Tony Romm, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim report.

  • A day later, though, the very catastrophe that congressional leaders had strained so hard to avoid seemed to be a real possibility  — offering a fresh glimpse of the partisan rancor that has hamstrung Capitol Hill from fulfilling even the most basic duties of government in recent months.”
  • “House and Senate leaders had yet to settle on the exact duration of their short-term funding measure ... And some GOP lawmakers in both chambers newly promised to hold up the process, hoping to use it as leverage to quash Biden’s recent vaccine and testing directives targeting private businesses.”
  • Watch Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who “threatened to block swift debate" on the” government spending bill

Sotomayor asks if Supreme Court can survive ‘stench’ of politicization if Roe v. Wade is overturned

“[Justice Sonia] Sotomayor, questioning the Mississippi solicitor general, warned that the Supreme Court would risk losing legitimacy if it overturns Roe v. Wade after two new justices tilted the court 6 to 3 in conservatives’ favor,” Amy B Wang reports.

Follow along here for live updates as the Supreme Court takes up the most serious challenge in decades to the constitutional right to abortion.

Blinken forcefully warns Russia against efforts to destabilize Ukraine

“‘We don't know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade" Ukraine, [Antony] Blinken said in remarks at the end of a North Atlantic Treaty Alliance meeting in Latvia. "We do know that he's putting in place the capacity to do so on short order, should he so decide,’” CNN’s Nicole Gaouette, Jennifer Hansler and Alex Marquardt report.

“Blinken's remarks, his most forceful on the issue to date, come as he is set to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday in Stockholm."

Mass. Governor Charlie Baker tells allies he won’t seek reelection for third term

“A moderate who has kept his distance from the controversies of the national Republican Party and cast himself as a thrifty and thoughtful manager, Baker would have entered the race as its front-runner. His decision, expected to be announced Wednesday, means he will forgo a shot at history: No Massachusetts governor has served three consecutive four-year terms,” the Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff and Matt Stout report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Meet the new Twitter CEO

Twitter’s new CEO is bringing an engineering background to a politics fight

[Parag] Agrawal, who at 37 becomes the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, was chosen unanimously to succeed [Jack] Dorsey by Twitter’s board of directors, according to an official statement Monday. At Tuesday’s all-hands meeting, according to employees who attended, Dorsey emphasized Agrawal’s engineering background and the fact that he rose through the ranks over a decade at Twitter in touting him as the ideal choice to lead the influential social media firm,” Will Oremus and Elizabeth Dwoskin report.

… and beyond

While politics consume school board meetings, a very different crisis festers

“Even as debates about schools have consumed the community, the reality of what is going on inside them has remained largely overlooked, school employees said. The disputes at school board meetings, though still framed as disagreements over what is best for students, have grown into a virtually self-perpetuating conflict, with parents rising to decry their opponents’ posts on social media or list the insults that have been directed their way,” the New York Times’s Campbell Robertson reports.

Congress nearing changes to sexual assault claims in private sector

“The Senate and House Judiciary Committees recently approved bipartisan legislation that would put an end to private employers’ use of forced arbitration — mediation between alleged victims and perpetrators that operates outside the traditional legal system — by allowing victims to decide whether they want to take their sexual harassment or assault claims to court instead,” Politico’s Marianne Levine reports.

Omicron rising

Nigeria says October covid-19 samples were Delta variant, first Omicron cases arrived in past week

“Nigeria said on Wednesday it had confirmed its first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, but amended its initial statement to say that the travellers had all arrived in Nigeria in the past week,” Reuters reports.

South Korea confirms first five cases of omicron variant

“The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Wednesday the cases include a couple who arrived from Nigeria on Nov. 24 and a friend who drove them home from the airport. The two other cases were women who also traveled to Nigeria and returned to South Korea on Nov. 23,” the AP’s Kim Tong-Hyung reports.

‘Don’t freak out’ over omicron, says chief of covid vaccine maker BioNTech

“Although it is possible that omicron may prove better than the delta variant at evading antibodies, Sahin said, it is too early to say whether the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would need to be adjusted. Billions of doses have been administered globally,” Adela Suliman reports.

Air travelers to U.S. set to face tougher COVID-19 testing

“The U.S. is moving to require that all air travelers entering the country show a negative COVID-19 test performed within one day of departure in response to concerns about a new coronavirus variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Tuesday,” Reuters’s David Shepardson reports.

The Biden agenda

Biden’s FCC pick will be instrumental in net neutrality fight

“While Biden's pick to lead the agency, Jessica Rosenworcel, has gotten bipartisan support, [Gigi] Sohn has attracted opposition from some Republicans, who have painted her as an extreme partisan. Sohn, who co-founded the public interest group Public Knowledge and advised former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, has been a longtime supporter of net neutrality rules, privacy protections and diversity in media ownership,” CNET’s Marguerite Reardon reports.

GOP warns Biden about Fed pick

“Key Republicans are warning President Biden not to nominate Richard Cordray, a progressive and former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to be the top banking regulator on the Federal Reserve,” Axios’s Hans Nichols reports.

Biden HIV/AIDS strategy calls racism ‘public health threat’

“To reduce the disparities, the strategy includes calls for focusing on the needs of disproportionately affected populations, supporting racial justice, combating HIV-related stigma and discrimination and providing leadership and employment opportunities for people with or who experience risk for HIV,” the AP reports.

Halted pre-viability abortion bans, visualized

Restrictions on abortion rights have increased in the past decade as policymakers in mostly Republican-led states have sought to provoke a Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade by banning abortion before viability. But federal judges have generally blocked early-stage abortion bans before they took effect, citing the precedent set by Roe. 

CORRECTION: The graphic in Monday’s newsletter under “Supreme Court justices on abortion and Roe v. Wade, visualized” mislabeled a drawing of Brett Kavanaugh as Neil Gorsuch.

Hot on the left

Opinion: The court cannot fool itself: Eviscerating ‘Roe’ would upend lives

Roe substantially cut unwanted pregnancies, and that effect remains sizable. Despite all the progress since Roe, roughly 1 in 4 women — many of them poor or otherwise vulnerable — will have an abortion at some point in their lives. Reverting to a situation in which states may freely deny them abortion access would raise barriers, but not cut off access, for the wealthy who can afford to travel out of state. It would be those who are least capable of seeing through a pregnancy, the birth and the rearing of a child whose futures would be determined by state legislators. Some would seek illegal abortions, which could threaten their lives. Others would simply see their futures evaporate,” The Post's editorial board writes.

“The justices must not fool themselves into believing that weakening or overturning Roe would be painless. It would be a deep blow to the ability of America’s women to live full, free, dignified lives — and, therefore, to the nation’s social, economic and moral health.”

Hot on the right

Facebook unblocks searches for Kyle Rittenhouse after acquittal

“Facebook has stopped blocking searches for the name Kyle Rittenhouse after he was acquitted of all charges for fatally shooting two people and injuring another in Kenosha, Wisc., last year amid a wave of protests against police violence,” Cristiano Lima reports.

“It shifts a policy implemented days after the Aug. 25, 2020, shooting, when the company said it had removed Rittenhouse’s accounts on both Facebook and Instagram in addition to ‘removing praise and support of the shooter’ and blocking ‘searches of his name on our platforms.’"

Today in Washington

Biden will speak about supply chains ahead of the holiday season at 12:35 p.m.

At 1:30 p.m., Vice President Harris will hold a National Space Council meeting at the United States Institute of Peace.

Biden will speak to commemorate World AIDS Day at 2:30 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m., the Bidens, Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will hold a menorah lighting ceremony.

In closing

It's…December? 2021?

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.