MAGA Malarkey: The Extremism You Missed From Republicans This Week

MAGA Republicans stooped to new lows this week with their extremism, hypocrisy, chaos, and — as President Biden would call it — malarkey. In case you missed it: Donald Trump said the quiet part out loud and told Sean Hannity that he would be a dictator on day one if reelected. Trump also traded endorsements with high-profile Republicans who want to gut Medicare and Social Security. 

In the MAGA race to the bottom, the 2024 GOP field doubled down on their extremism: Nikki Haley argued that DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill didn’t go far enough, both Haley and DeSantis refused to call Trump saying he’d be a “dictator on day one” disqualifying, and floundering Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy resorted to Trump-endorsed conspiracy theories to boost his sinking poll numbers.

On Capitol Hill, House Republicans admitted that their baseless impeachment inquiry into President Biden is an excuse to manufacture a scandal to boost Trump. After having the third-shortest speakership in history, former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy announced that he’ll be retiring from Congress at the end of December. As for the current speaker, more details about MAGA Mike Johnson’s homophobic and conspiratorial record were revealed. Meanwhile, Senator Tommy Tuberville has “no regrets” about blocking hundreds of key military promotions and nominations in the name of anti-abortion extremism. Over in New Hampshire, Republicans filed a bill that would ban abortion before many women even know they’re pregnant. It’s been a malarkey-filled week, folks. 

Donald Trump said that would rule as a dictator on “day one” if reelected.

New York Times: “And even as Mr. Hannity tried to clarify that Mr. Trump had no intention of abusing his office, Mr. Trump did not state a clear aversion to the idea of authoritarian power. ‘This guy, he says, “You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’’ Mr. Trump said, referring to Mr. Hannity. ‘I said, “No, no, no — other than Day 1.” We’re closing the border. And we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.’”

On MSNBC, Joe Scarborough: “If any other politician in American history were asked the question, ‘Are you going to be a dictator,’ [they’d say] no. Donald Trump never answered it.” 

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine: “This exchange is best understood as Trump enjoying the idea of himself as dictator. Trump has always admired dictators and has longed to be granted the obsequious deference they are afforded. As president, his favorite moments were trips to places like North Korea, where he spoke admiringly about the way his counterparties were treated. (‘He’s the head of the country,’ Trump said of Kim Jong-un. ‘And I mean, he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. … He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.’)”

While parroting dictators, Trump is spelling out his second term plans to weaponize federal agencies and undermine our nation’s rule of law.

New York Times: “Donald Trump’s 2024 Campaign, in His Own Menacing Words”

David Frum, MSNBC: “If Donald Trump is elected again, I don’t think people appreciate enough how much chaos there’s going to be. The government is going to break down. We could be in a situation where the presidency just melts down under the weight of a president using the presidency to protect himself from his crimes.”

Maggie Haberman, CNN: “[Donald Trump] is saying a number of things that he is planning. He has a policy staff that is working on a very, very radical immigration plan. … He has outside groups that are working on efforts to try to not just staff a second administration, but help him gut the civil service and to try to take greater control over pockets of authority — of independence within the government. So, this is all from his own mouth, or from his close allies or his advisers. And this is what would happen next time.”

On CNN, Poppy Harlow: “Donald Trump, I think, made clear on his remarks about ‘I’d only be a dictator on day one.’ Exactly what President Biden is talking about in terms of preserving democracy.”

Trump traded endorsements with MAGA minions Kevin Hern and Rick Scott, who share his goal of gutting Social Security and Medicare.

Mica Soellner, Punchbowl News: “RSC Chair Kevin Hern endorses Trump after last night’s debate”

Semafor: “These days, the RSC is best known around Washington as a GOP policy shop responsible for crafting proposals to balance the federal budget, often through changes and cuts to Social Security and Medicare.” 

Florida Politics: “Donald Trump endorses Rick Scott for re-election”

Washington Post: Opinion: “[Rick] Scott’s plan would also sunset — eliminate — all federal legislation over five years, under the (risky) assumption that worthy laws would be reenacted. That could mean an end to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid … and potentially more.”

Washington Examiner: “When he was president, Trump proposed spending less on the entitlement programs in his budgets and openly spoke about his desire to cut them while also promoting reforms to payroll taxes, which effectively fund Social Security. In addition, he called for the retirement age to be increased to 70 and for the ‘Ponzi scheme’ Social Security to be privatized in his 2020 book, The America We Deserve, after praising Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 2012 Republican presidential campaign platform of changes.” 

MAGA Republicans tripled down on their threats to rip away health care coverage by repealing  the Affordable Care Act.

Trump: “Obamacare is a disaster. And I said, ‘We’re gonna do something about it.’”

Justin Dougherty, Fox Carolina News: “If Republicans get control of Washington, [with] you in the White House, what’s your plan to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act?”

DeSantis: “Well, look, that was a big failure. Obviously, under the Trump administration, that was a core promise — it didn’t happen. You know, what we’re gonna do is we have this massive health care bureaucracy: pharmaceutical, government, insurance, all this stuff. It’s a total mess. We’re gonna have a comprehensive plan to lower people’s costs, and yes, Obamacare hasn’t done it, so we’ll transcend Obamacare, but I think you got to do a lot more than just that.”

Dana Bash, CNN: “Let’s talk about the 2024 campaign trail. Donald Trump called Obamacare a disaster last night in Iowa after reiterating his calls to repeal it. You of course voted to repeal Obamacare when Trump was president. Do you think that this is a winning issue right now? Would you like to see another vote again?” 

Graham: “Yeah. Good question. This is what we tried to do when Trump was president. Let’s block grant the money.” 

2024 Republican candidates have refused to address New Hampshire Republicans’ proposal for an extreme abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.

New Hampshire House Bill 1248: “This bill prohibits abortion, other than for a medical emergency, if the gestational age of the fetus is more than 15 days.”

HuffPost: “Republicans in New Hampshire filed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country on Tuesday.”

Rolling Stone: “The bill is effectively a total ban on abortion. The absolute earliest a woman can confirm she is pregnant is with a blood test 10 days after ovulation. But this proposed law does not ban abortion 15 days after ovulation — it bans abortion at 15 days gestation, counted from the first day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle… which means it would ban abortion before some woman have even had conceived. The only proposed exception to the law is for a medical emergency.”
Nikki Haley is continuing her campaign to end Social Security and Medicare as we know them — essential programs America’s seniors rely on. 

CNN: “Haley has called for several changes to the nation’s safety net programs, including increasing the age at which today’s younger workers would become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits and limiting the growth of benefits the wealthy receive.”

“Nearly 67 million Americans have received monthly Social Security benefits this year, and more than 66 million people are enrolled in Medicare. Polling shows little support for major changes to the programs themselves to help shore up their finances.

“A March CNN/SSRS poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, for instance, found that 59% said it was ‘essential’ that the GOP nominee for president ‘pledges to maintain Social Security and Medicare as they are.’”

Jen Psaki, MSNBC: “[Haley] wants to raise the retirement age for young people in particular, at a time when life expectancy in this country is dropping. … It’s also important to dig into what she says she would actually do as president. You might find it isn’t so moderate after all.”

During this week’s Republican debate, Nikki Haley claimed Ron DeSantis’ cruel and unpopular “Don’t Say Gay” bill didn’t go far enough. 

Haley: “[DeSantis’s] ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill didn’t go far enough.”

New York Times: DeSantis’s legislation will “have a chilling effect on what students and teachers think they can say about sexual orientation and gender identity. Just as dangerously, scientific research has linked the gag order’s implicit message of exclusion, shame and unworthiness to tangible health harms for L.G.B.T.Q. youth.”

The Advocate: “Stumping for votes in her long-shot bid for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley is trying to prove she’s just as anti-LGBTQ+ as Florida governor Ron DeSantis … Haley’s record on LGBTQ+ issues is abysmal. As noted by GLAAD, Haley has said President Joe Biden’s support of transgender rights will destroy women’s sports … She also opposed marriage equality as both South Carolina state representative and governor. Additionally, she rejected matching funds for a program offering HIV medication to lower-income patients.” 

Vivek Ramaswamy used Wednesday’s debate to prove he’s a Trump loyalist who is hellbent on repeating false claims about the January 6 insurrection.

Dan Merica: “Sinking In Polls, Vivek Ramaswamy Turns To Right Wing Conspiracy Theories”

“Ramaswamy attempted to use conspiracy theories on Wednesday night as a defibrillator to resuscitate his presidential bid.”
The Messenger: “The bombastic businessman-turned-politician entered the fourth debate on Wednesday night a diminished figure, seen as a gadfly by those on stage, a worrying joke to many top Republican operatives, and someone whose poll numbers have done nothing but sink since that first debate.

“Faced with this unenviable position of his own making, Ramaswamy turned to one of his reliable sources of Republican support, the world of right-wing conspiracy theories, using his platform to sound more like someone posting on right-wing message boards than a candidate for president.”

Vanity Fair: “And Ramaswamy, frantically clinging to his undeserved relevance, went into all-out crank mode—confidently theorizing that the January 6 attack was an ‘inside job,’ that climate change is a ‘hoax,’ and that the ‘Great Replacement’ theory is not some racist paranoia, but a ‘basic statement of the Democratic Party platform.’”

MAGA Republicans brazenly said the quiet part out loud when they admitted their baseless impeachment sham is a political stunt designed to give Trump “ammo” in 2024.

USA Today: “Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, one of Trump’s most vocal supporters in the House, has not shied away from pushing for Biden’s impeachment in part to play politics.

“If Trump, who has been impeached twice, is the 2024 Republican nominee, Nehls said he wants to give Trump ‘a little bit of ammo to fire back’ and say Biden has also been impeached.”

The Messenger: “Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday suggested moderate Republicans may go along with a new attempt to launch a presidential impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden because they could face primary threats if they don’t.

“’If you’re a Republican, do you really want to guarantee a primary opponent by voting against looking into [Biden]?’”

Senator Tommy Tuberville may have finally begun to retreat in his military blockade, but he made it clear that he has “no regrets” about blocking hundreds of key military promotions and nominations in the name of anti-abortion extremism. 

Politico: “Tuberville dropped most of his months-long holds earlier on Tuesday, backing down from his vow to block them until the Pentagon changes an internal abortion travel policy.”

Andrew Desidero, Punchbowl News: “TUBERVILLE concedes he lost & got nothing in return: ‘We didn’t get the win that we wanted. We’ve still got the bad [abortion] policy. We tried to stand up for the taxpayers…’ But Tuberville tells me he has no regrets about any of this”

Politico: “Military leaders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have blasted Tuberville, saying that the hold harms national security and military readiness.”

New reporting uncovered that MAGA Mike Johnson wrote the foreword for a conspiracy-ridden and homophobic book last year — and he has doubled down on his support for the book and its contents on both his podcast and social media platforms.

CNN: “Speaker of the House Mike Johnson wrote the foreword and publicly promoted a 2022 book that spread baseless and discredited conspiracy theories and used derogatory homophobic insults.”
“Johnson’s endorsement of the book extends beyond the foreword: In 2022, he actively promoted the book on his public social media platforms and even dedicated an episode of his podcast he co-hosts with his wife to hosting McKay.

“During the podcast episode, Johnson expressed his belief in the book, stating, ‘I obviously believe in the product, or I wouldn’t have written the foreword. So I endorse the work.’”

“The book denies that carbon dioxide is linked to climate change and frequently mocks the climate crisis as ‘hysteria.’”

“The book targets and taunts prominent Democratic officials, including calling Interior Secretary Deb Haaland ‘half oppressed’ because her mother is Native American and father is of Norwegian descent and writes that former President Barack Obama’s ‘chief selling point was that he was black.’
“McKay also adds that the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, a frequent foe of Donald Trump, used his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam ‘as a political get-out-of-jail-free card.’”

Kevin McCarthy announced his McExit from Congress, leaving behind a failed legacy as puppet to Donald Trump and a cog in the MAGA machine trying to destroy democracy. 

Vanity Fair: “Kevin McCarthy cast a vote that should forever define his legacy. Along with 138 of his Republican colleagues in the House, and eight more in the Senate, the then-minority leader voted against certifying the election results on January 6, 2021—even after armed Donald Trump supporters besieged the Capitol to disrupt that very process. It was a shameful act, and one that belied his behind-the-scenes exhortations that the former president put a stop to the chaos and violence. But McCarthy did it anyway—voted against democracy, voted against impeachment, and truckled to Trump at Mar-a-Lago weeks after the Capitol attack—for the same reason he does everything: ambition.” 

The Atlantic: “Kevin McCarthy’s Loyalty to Trump Got Him Nothing”

“[McCarthy] quickly moved to mend the breach [after January 6], flying to Mar-a-Lago in late January 2021 to prostrate himself. … Over the next two years, he remained close to Trump, and courted the most hard-core Trump supporters. Faced with the challenge of how to handle Marjorie Taylor Greene, the new representative with a slate of appalling statements and passionate conservative support, McCarthy chose to only lightly castigate and then align with Greene. Those moves were cowardly and often self-debasing.”

Forbes: “‘I Can Talk To Anyone’: McCarthy Defends His Visit To See Trump At Mar-A-Lago”

MSNBC Opinion: “What was McCarthy’s previous low point, prior to his ouster? Because there are just so many to choose from.”

“Was it on Jan. 6, 2021, when McCarthy joined 138 other House Republicans voting to try to overturn the 2020 election result, after — I repeat, after — an armed mob of Donald Trump supporters had laid waste to the Capitol?

“Was it on Jan. 28, 2021, when McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, Florida, to bend his knee to Trump, and then released a photo of the two of them smiling together, just weeks after he had publicly declared that the former president ‘bears responsibility’ for the attack on Congress?

“Was it on Jan. 7 of this year, when McCarthy finally secured the speaker’s gavel on the  15th House ballot, ‘more rounds of voting than any other time since before the Civil War’?