DeSantis Quits and Kisses Trump's Ring - The Monday AM Quickie 1/22/24

Condolences to the staff of Sports Illustrated! It's grim out there in media land. -Jacob

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DeSantis Quits the GOP Race and Endorses Trump

It's over for Meatball Ron. Florida's governor bowed to the pretty-much-inevitable and quit the Republican presidential race on Sunday. He promptly endorsed Donald Trump. After some early hype, it became apparent that DeSantis had no national appeal. Unctuous, awkward, and personally repellant, DeSantis was deeply unsuited for the always-on retail politician persona. His debate performances seemed intentionally designed to produce memes of him looking like he was wired to explode. He had a nasal voice and a tendency to wipe his snot on potential voters' sleeves, which tend not to be political assets.

With the exception of Nikki Haley, nearly every Republican candidate of note has dropped out. None of them showed a real capacity to challenge Trump in the polls, but that wasn't the point: they were auditioning for jobs in the future Trump-led Republican power structure. DeSantis may have genuinely thought he had a shot, but while conservative voters might like his vulgar culture-warring – which has resulted in a range of transphobic, homophobic, and anti-abortion policies – he simply lacks the insult-comic charisma and dictatorial aspirations that have made Trump a perverse icon of the American right.

New Hampshire holds its Republican primary tomorrow, and Nikki Haley is plowing ahead, hoping to do, well, anything. Recent polling has her about 17 points behind Trump in New Hampshire. Haley has become the favorite for anti-Trump Republicans, representing a throwback to Bush-era neocon-like muscular jingoism and retrograde culture warring. Haley hasn't been a vigorous Trump critic or distinctly different from him on policy. But she's a generation younger, and over the weekend she threw some soft jabs at Trump's age and apparent cognitive decline (which hardly begins to describe his particular strain of derangement).

It probably won't matter. It's become a political truism at this point: Donald Trump has total command of the Republican base. Until he's in a prison or in the ground – which, actuarily speaking, might be inching closer – it's going to stay that way.

Netanyahu Demands Israeli Control from the River to the Sea

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again denied the possibility of Palestinian sovereignty and insisted on "full Israeli security control over all the territory west of the Jordan [River]." Many other leading Israeli officials have voiced similar remarks, both refusing to tame Israel's brutal military campaign in Gaza and offering a whole rejection of Palestine ever becoming a sovereign state. Netanyahu also rejected an apparent ceasefire and prisoner exchange offer with Hamas.

According to CNN, Netanyahu called President Joe Biden to tell him that – despite explicitly rejecting the very concept of a Palestinian state and proudly working to deny its formation for decades – he had not abandoned the possibility. Apparently that's why President Joe Biden said on Friday that he still thinks that Netanyahu could preside over the implementation of a two-state solution. It's either ideological complicity or extraordinary naivete, but Biden's wholesale support of Netanyahu and the Israeli government has hardly waivered, even with 25,000 Gazans dead.

“There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that … don’t have their own military; a number of states that have limitations, and so I think there’s ways in which this can work,” said Biden, echoing the opinions of Israeli officials who have called for a less-than-complete Palestinian state.

"Netanyahu is selling what he disparagingly refers to as a “state minus,” which is not an independent Palestinian state at all," according to former US diplomat Martin Indyk. "It’s minus sovereignty, minus independence, minus territorial contiguity, and minus freedom from occupation. Don’t buy it, Joe!"

It sounds like Biden is very much willing to buy it. It may help cost him the election. And for what?


  • Who Will Be Trump's VP Pick? The Trump VP list may include Sen. Tim Scott (who got engaged over the weekend), Sen. J.D. Vance (who once denounced Trump), and Elise Stefanik (who is soaring in the ranks of most irritating millennials). The only person definitely not on the list seems to be Nikki Haley. via Axios and Politico.
  • Dean Phillips Still in This Thing, Says Dean Phillips Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips – you'll be forgiven for saying "who?" – has attracted millions of dollars from tech and finance elites looking for a more pliable Biden alternative. Phillips said over the weekend that he'd consider a third-party bid if he somehow isn't the Democratic nominee. via New York Magazine, Politico, and New York Times.
  • Severe Winter Weather Affecting Millions Much of America is still in a deep freeze, with dozens of people dying in the last week from hypothermia, car crashes, falling while trying to clear snow from roofs, and other winter hazards. This week may bring the thermometer above freezing, but it's still going to be wet, cold, and a touch unpleasant out there. via New York Times, Associated Press, and CNN.
  • We Have Never Been at War With the Houthis As conflict blooms across the Middle East, the US has stepped up its nascent campaign against Yemen's Houthi movement, which has attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel's devastating attacks in Gaza. Asked if the air strikes are stopping the Houthis, Biden responded, “No. Are they going to continue? Yes.” That's quagmire mindset in the way only an American president can. via CNBC.



That's how many games Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer has won, making her the winningest coach in college basketball history. With yesterday's 65-56 victory over Oregon State, VanDerveer passed legendary former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. She won her first game as a coach on December 1, 1978.


1/22: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with Elie Mystal, justice correspondent at The Nation, to discuss the oral arguments that took place at the Supreme Court last week for Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo.


Right-Wing Weirdos Are Really Obsessed With Taylor Swift

She might be the least political major pop star, but that doesn't mean she can't piss off conservatives.

Shocking Obama-Era Report About Biden And Netanyahu

Biden seems uniquely bad on Israel and Palestine, and it's dividing Democrats.


"It's pretty much this big spectacular macabre Mardi Gras. It's a lot of singing, lots of paramours pairing up, and then lots of dying."

-- An entomologist describing the coming simultaneous emergence of two cicada broods this spring. Billions of cicadas will crawl out of the ground, perform courtship songs, mate, lay eggs, and then die en masse. One expert compared the smell of a mass cicada die-off to a "delicate, rotten Limburger cheese." Yum.