Two terrible takes fight to the death.

It’s not even noon, but the takes are terrible and the gods want justice. The discourse is a blasted hellscape so Thunderdome rules apply: Two takes enter, one take leaves. Dyin’ time is here!

In one corner we’ve got Kathleen Parker, who says Steve King is bad but don’t call him a racist:

I’m as happy as anyone to dismiss extremists of any sort as this-ist or that-phobe. But such labeling seems both facile and unproductive. Swaddling ourselves in righteous indignation, we settle by the fire, cooing to our superior intellects and noticing too late the hungry mob building a pyre beyond the window.

How apt that this appears in The Washington Post, where Amber Phillips recently urged us not to call our lying president a liar. Parker’s column is interesting chiefly because it reveals that she’s a hypocrite. From her perch in the stultifying bosom of the Post, she casts herself as a superior intellect in contrast to King’s cruder critics. This does not promote nuanced discourse. This is PR for racists.

That’s bad, but she’s got competition. Welcome, Jon Meacham!

Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winnng author and an executive vice president at Random House. He also has extremely bad opinions, as evinced in his new editorial urging Donald Trump to lead us like Andrew Jackson:

My hope is that you will note not only the surface similarities you share with the seventh president (the big personality, the fierce pride, the rhetorical antagonism toward political, economic and cultural elites) but that you will engage Jackson’s complexity rather than simply embrace his caricature.

“Complexity” is an interesting stand-in for “genocide.” Old Hickory, as he’s fondly known to his revisionist defenders, killed a lot of people! He murdered Native Americans and owned slaves. Meacham does concede this later in his op-ed, which prompts an obvious question: Why urge Trump to emulate Jackson at all? We’re all Americans still, sir. Lead all of us. Jackson did. You can, too,” Meacham begs. But Jackson did not lead all Americans. Even Baseball Crank understands this.


It is true that Trump shares some qualities in common with Jackson, and this is not a compliment to Trump. The “fierce pride” they share is really hubris, and history will regard Trump as skeptically as it regards Jackson.

These takes are terrible, but only one take can win. Meacham, take a victory lap.

June 26, 2019

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Welcome to TNR’s coverage of the Democratic debates.

Yes, the debates are upon us, a mere 16 months before voters will cast their ballots to decide whether President Trump should get a second term. In that time, babies will be conceived and born, the earth will orbit the sun and then some, and Democrats will, with any luck, choose a champion from the two dozen candidates running for the nomination. It all begins tonight, with the first of two debates in Miami this week featuring the 20 candidates—ten each round—who qualified to participate by either polling at 1 percent in three surveys or receiving 65,000 individual donations.

The staff of The New Republic will be watching the proceedings, offering running commentary and post-debate analysis, and hopefully answering any questions readers might have. Who’s up, who’s down? Who, if anyone, seems qualified to stall America’s spiraling descent into a fiery wasteland overseen by Trumpian kleptocrats? And who is Eric Swalwell, anyway? Pop by TNR’s Minutes blog at 9 o’clock EST tonight and tomorrow night to find out!