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Give That Man a Ham

Congratulations to our first-ever Cutline of the Year honoree.

There is extraordinary satisfaction that comes with the freedom to do the work I’ve chosen in the way I think it ought to be done. But even better is the chance to do that work for an institution that is bringing healing where there has been harm. 

What a marvel that I am able to have both here.

The Dispatch wants to do good for our nation, and goes about it with an unselfconscious enthusiasm that is not much in evidence in the news media these days. Thank God for that, and thank God for you, gentle readers, who make it possible. I know only too well how rare a privilege you have afforded us here on our jolly little skiff.

When Jonah Goldberg and Steve Hayes hoisted me aboard like a stunned marlin almost three years ago, I knew that those things would be true. I knew them and knew what they had made here. What I did not expect, though, was how much I would enjoy you people.  

This note has given me a chance to get to know you, and my travels across the country have given me many chances to meet you in person. What I have learned is that in an age of siloed, partisan media, you are ideologically diverse. In an age of emotional blabber, you are thoughtful. In an age of enthusiastic ignorance, you are informed.

But best of all, you are funny.

Each week we ask you to suggest a humorous caption for the photo atop the note. It started as a lark; just a placeholder until we figured out what we would use to round out the note. I think it’s important to mix things up—salty and sweet, heavy and light—when we’re talking about politics. People, myself very much included, get awfully full of themselves otherwise.

What started as a placeholder quickly turned into a permanent feature, a favorite of readers’ and of my colleague, Nate Moore, who has the pleasure of reading your submissions—especially the unpublishable ones—first. Every week, I think that surely the well will dry up, and each week you deliver dozens of gags. Never have you failed to make me laugh out loud.

And every month, choosing a monthly winner from the weekly champs is hard to do. I’m a tough sell, but never have I been able to easily dismiss any entrants for our prize, some geegaw or gimcrack from the depths of eBay’s political memorabilia section. 

This is the last you’ll hear from us in 2023 as Nate and I both recharge for what promises to be an election year both wild and wooly. I hope you also find a little quiet next week and that you are as wonderfully blessed with people to love and be loved by as I am.

As an expression of gratitude for all your support and, most of all, the laughs, we are expanding the contest even further with the first Cutline of the Year Award, chosen from among our monthly winners. You will find out the winner of the prize—an honest-to-goodness Wigwam Ham (or poultry alternative) from Edwards of Virginia—after we do a little business.

First, we have the matter of the weekly winner, who gets a shot at the December contest, which will yield the final entrant into the 2023 ham stakes.

Here’s the photo they were working with:

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy points during a commercial break in the NewsNation Republican primary debate on December 6, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy points during a commercial break in the NewsNation Republican primary debate on December 6, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

And here’s your weekly winner:

“Hey! What’s that anvil doing hanging up there?”—Jack Slade, Las Vegas, Nevada

That’s a BLAMMO right there, Mr. Slade, and more than good enough for a shot at the December prize. But this month’s winner was exceptional for not just the quality of the joke, but for its deft inclusion of politics without becoming hacky.

Dean Winters in ‘30 Rock.’ (Photo courtesy of Broadway Video/NBC Universal)
Dean Winters in ‘30 Rock.’ (Photo courtesy of Broadway Video/NBC Universal)

“What do you mean ‘I’m clinging bitterly?’”—Chris Debaillon, Rosenberg, Texas

Well done, Mr. Debaillon! As Liz Lemon would say, you’re high-fiving a million angels with this one. Please email us your home address so we can send you your prize, a collection of Pennsylvania pins from Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

With the matter of December concluded, turning now to the runners up for the 2023 grand prize.  

Winner, Gym Class Heroes Division:

Rep. Jim Jordan speaks during a press conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C, on October 20, 2023.  (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/ Getty Images)
Rep. Jim Jordan speaks during a press conference at the Capitol in Washington, D.C, on October 20, 2023. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/ Getty Images)

“Next.”—Frank Virnelli Jr., West Hartford, Connecticut

Winner, Gives Him Pause Division:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media at the U.S. Capitol on June 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media at the U.S. Capitol on June 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“Hang on, did you say they’re televising the Georgia trial?”—Brett Houseman, Vista, California

Winner, D’yer Mak’er to Iowa Division 

Sen. Tim Scott speaking to pro-life protesters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Tim Scott speaking to pro-life protesters outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

“Hey, hey mama said the way you move. Gonna make you sweat gonna make you groove.”—Kevin Cook, Fort Worth, Texas

Winner, Smails Sails Division: 

Marjorie Taylor Greene, Tucker Carlson, and former President Donald Trump. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images.)
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Tucker Carlson, and former President Donald Trump. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images.)

“The man worthwhile is the man who steals files and can still smile ’cause Cheney lost the fight for her seat.”—Michael Johnson, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

And now, without further fanfare, your 2023 champion:

President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House Friday. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House Friday. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Yeah, Bobby, that’s some good skunk.”—Bob Goldman, Gilroy, California

Perfect, Mr. Goldman. Just perfect. We already have your address, but we need to know—and would never presume—whether you would like a delicious Wigwam Ham or a beautiful Edwards’ smoked turkey. If it’s swine on which you’d rather dine, please specify if you’d like it cooked or—for serious Virginia ham aficionados only—uncooked and ready for finishing at home.

Thank you all for the fun this year and here’s to you and yours for a joyous Christmas (or Christmas equivalent) and the happiest of New Years. 


Holy croakano! We welcome your feedback, so please email us with your tips, corrections, reactions, amplifications, etc. at STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. If you’d like to be considered for publication, please include your real name and hometown. If you don’t want your comments to be made public, please specify.


STATSHOT

Biden Job Performance
Average approval: 38.6%
Average disapproval: 56.6%
Net score: –18.0 points 

Change from one week ago: ↓ 1.4 points                        
Change from one month ago: ↓ 2.2 points

[Average includes: Quinnipiac: 38% approve-58% disapprove; NYT/Siena: 39% approve-57%; Monmouth: 34% approve-61% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 42% approve-54% disapprove; Reuters/Ipsos: 40% approve-53% disapprove]

Polling Roulette


TIME OUT: OUR AMERICAN COUSINS

Atlantic: “Within many families—and I’m sorry to have to say this—cousins occupy a weird place. … And yet, they share something rare and invaluable: They know what it’s like to be part of the same particular family. Going forward, not as many people will be in that peculiar position. American families are shrinking in general, but with cousins, that drop happens at a dramatic scale. … Your ‘vertical,’ intergenerational bonds can be tight and tremendously meaningful, but they also tend to come with care duties, and a clear hierarchy. … The classic cousin relationship, relative to that, is amazingly uncomplicated. … Cousins are essentially peers who can stretch your assumptions—without as much fear of the relationship ending if debates get heated. … A cousin-sparse future, then, could be a greater loss than people might recognize. With fewer of them around, cousins may need to depend on one another even more. Families are shrinking—but that doesn’t mean they need to come apart.” 


TRUMP’S COLORADO DQ TEES UP SCOTUS SHOWDOWN

New York Times: “The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify former President Donald J. Trump from the ballot for the state’s Republican presidential primary is almost certain to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. … The decision in Colorado alone would probably have little effect on the electoral map — the state awards just nine Electoral College votes and Democratic presidential candidates have won it for the last four general elections. … But if the court’s decision is upheld, it could set a precedent that allows for other states, including potentially more competitive ones, to invoke the 14th Amendment in a similar fashion. … On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidates will again be pressured to weigh in on the legal woes of their chief opponent.”

Fundraising, polling boost likely to follow: Reuters: “Donors and political analysts from both major parties said the ruling would inflame Trump’s political base, fuel his argument that he is the victim of a partisan legal process, and fill his campaign coffers, as happened earlier this year when he was indicted on a bevy of felony charges. … His campaign urged supporters to donate to fight back against what it called a ‘tyrannical’ decision. … In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Dec. 5-11, 57% of independent voters said it was believable that Trump ‘tried to incite a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.’ … As happened with Trump’s previous court cases, Republican rivals for the nomination leaped to his defense rather than seek to benefit from the Colorado decision. … ‘The Left invokes democracy to justify its use of power, even if it means abusing judicial power to remove a candidate from the ballot based on spurious legal grounds,’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wrote on X. Haley called the judges’ action ‘truly unthinkable.’”

HALEY CONTINUES HER NEW HAMPSHIRE CLIMB
NH Journal: “The new Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll put Donald Trump’s support at 44 percent and Nikki Haley’s at 30 percent, consistent with a 44-29 percent margin in the CBS News poll released Sunday. … ‘Gov. Chris Sununu’s endorsement has provided rocket fuel to Nikki Haley’s campaign,’ said New Hampshire GOP strategist Patrick Hynes. ‘We now have a competitive, two-person race.’ … The news is all bad for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, however. In St A’s March 2023 survey, DeSantis was at 29 percent among Granite State Republicans and within 13 points of Trump. Today, he has the support of just six percent of GOP primary voters — half of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 12 percent support.”

Feeling the heat, Trump fires back: Washington Post: “A super PAC supporting former president Donald Trump is launching television ads in New Hampshire targeting Nikki Haley. … The ad, funded by Make America Great Again Inc., focuses on Haley’s position on taxes, attempting to hammer her for changing her stance on a gas tax while serving as governor of South Carolina. … Haley’s campaign in a statement asserted that the pro-Trump PAC was repeating ‘debunked lies.’ … The New Hampshire primaries are a month away, and the ad is set to run through Sunday across two CBS stations operating in the region.”

Christie a ‘monumental’ roadblock to a Haley upset: Politico: “Republicans in New Hampshire say Christie is now positioned to help pave the way for Trump’s nomination by siphoning votes away from Nikki Haley, Trump’s closest-polling competitor in the state. … ‘They are both currently splitting the Independent vote, and Haley desperately needs those votes,’ said Mike Dennehy. … Christie advisers said no one has asked the candidate to drop out. And there is no indication he is slowing down either. Tell It Like It Is PAC, a pro-Christie outside group, is running a $3.5 million TV advertising campaign in New Hampshire. … ‘But here’s my problem. If I were to drop out and support Nikki Haley, I have no confidence — no confidence — in the fact that she’ll make the case against Trump,’ Christie said.”

Is Meatball cooked? PAC implosion gets saucy: Wall Street Journal: “Internal turmoil continued for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential bid as a top strategist resigned over the weekend. … Jeff Roe, who led the Never Back Down super PAC handling an outsize role in the campaign, resigned [last Saturday] night, citing critical comments from another official with the group. … Roe is the latest in a string of people who have left or been fired from the group in recent weeks as DeSantis allies worked to gain control. … DeSantis personally didn’t approve of some advertising and strategic decisions, according to people familiar with his thinking. A widely mocked debate memo from the group also rankled the candidate. … DeSantis in recent weeks has been more forceful in criticizing Trump but it hasn’t yet changed the trajectory of the campaign.”

BIDEN HOLDS ADVANTAGE IN LOW-TURNOUT ELECTION

New York Times: “Even though he trails among registered voters, Mr. Biden actually leads Mr. Trump in our first measure of the 2024 likely electorate, 47 percent to 45 percent. … Our polls have consistently shown Mr. Biden doing better among highly regular and engaged voters — especially those who voted in the last midterm election. In those polls, the most heavily Republican voters have been those who voted in 2020, but not 2022. It helps explain why Democrats keep doing so well in low-turnout special elections. … But in this particular poll, the split isn’t just between midterm and non-midterm voters. It’s between people who voted in the 2020 general election and those who didn’t. Mr. Biden leads by six points among voters who participated in the 2020 election, while Mr. Trump holds an overwhelming 22-point lead among those who did not vote in 2020.”

Poll: Biden approval hits all-time low: Monmouth: “Public opinion of Biden’s overall job performance currently stands at 34% approve and 61% disapprove – his lowest rating in Monmouth’s polling since he took office. Since September, his approval number has dropped 4 points and his disapproval number has increased by 6 points. … A majority of Americans disapprove of the way Biden has handled five different policy areas, results that are between one and six points worse than the last time Monmouth asked these questions. Specifically, just over 2 in 3 disapprove of the president’s performance on immigration (69%) and inflation (68%).”

But the reelection campaign shrugs off the (bad) polls: Politico: “President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have been getting worse in recent months, often showing him tied with or trailing former President Donald Trump by a few points. … Three times now in a little over a month, Biden has dismissed polls that show him trailing Trump or other potential GOP rivals and insisted that reporters aren’t getting the full picture. … ‘You’re reading the wrong polls,’ Biden said.”

GOP TRIES TO DODGE A 2022 REPLAY AS SENATE PRIMARIES NEAR

Politico: “With the first intraparty contest now just three months away, Senate Republican leaders are entering a vital stretch as they work to nudge primaries toward their preferred candidates with public endorsements and campaign aid. … Republicans are still facing internecine battles in states like Arizona, Ohio and Montana that could upend their best-laid plans. … In Arizona, some Republicans have so far unsuccessfully attempted to clear the field for Kari Lake by urging her opponent to primary a House member instead. In Ohio, GOP Sen. J.D. Vance is trying to sell party leaders on his preferred pick in a three-way contest. … Republicans at least avoided a repeat of an ugly primary in Pennsylvania. Republican Dave McCormick, the 2022 runner-up to Mehmet Oz, has the race to himself. … With West Virginia all but certain to fall in their favor, Republicans only need to pick up one more Senate seat — or the presidency — to win the majority. Montana and Ohio are the ripest targets.”

Trump endorses Moreno to challenge Brown: Columbus Dispatch: “Trump announced on Tuesday that he’s endorsing Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno in the Republican primary that will determine who runs against Sen. Sherrod Brown. … Moreno is running for the GOP nomination against Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls. The primary is March 19. … [Moreno] ran in the crowded 2022 Republican primary to replace former Sen. Rob Portman, but he dropped out after a private meeting with Trump. … Trump’s nod could provide Moreno with a much-needed boost in the final months of the race, when most Ohio voters will start paying attention in earnest.” 

Poll: Schiff pulls away as race for second heats up: Politico: “Rep. Adam Schiff holds a clear lead in the race to represent California in the U.S. Senate. … The fiercer fight is for the number two spot in the general election, with Republican Steve Garvey and Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee in a dead heat. … The scramble for second place will determine whether the November election will erupt into a protracted intraparty battle between two Democrats or a more lopsided red-versus-blue contest in staunchly liberal California. … The findings show a notable bump for Garvey from previous polls of the race. … Breaking into the top two would be a coup for California Republicans, who have struggled in statewide races and risk being locked out of the contest in November.”

Jeffries picks sides in hot Maryland Senate primary: Washington Post: “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Monday endorsed Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) in the sharply contested Democratic primary race to be Maryland’s next senator, along with two other top Democrats in the House of Representatives. … The campaign for the open Senate seat in deep-blue Maryland has largely become a two-person race between Trone, who has already spent nearly $10 million of his fortune blanketing the state with ads, and Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks. … Endorsements have played a prominent role in the early stages of the primary, which will be held in May as each candidate seeks a sense of impenetrability as they vie to replace retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).” 

BRIEFLY

House GOP campaign arm scores last-minute recruit for Ohio battleground—Toledo Blade

Texas, Florida projected big winners from 2030 reapportionment—Politico

New York GOP picks former Israeli soldier to replace expelled Santos—NBC News

Pro-life groups redouble efforts as state referenda gain momentum—Politico

WITHIN EARSHOT: WAIT. WHAT?

“New York. This is a place where every day you wake up you could experience everything from a plane crashing into our Trade Center to a person who’s celebrating a new business that’s open. This is a very, very complicated city, and that’s why it’s the greatest city on the globe.”—New York City Mayor Eric Adams is asked to describe his 2023 in one word. 


MAILBAG

“[Last week’s] commentary was beneath you. While largely correct about Ramaswamy, you joined him and others on the race to the bottom of rhetoric.  Think about it, seriously.”—Bradley Johnson, Chanhassen, Minnesota

I’m not sure of your exact complaint, Mr. Johnson. But I will be serious in thinking about it. 

Your disapproval may stem from the fact that I mocked Ramaswamy: e.g, making fun of him for leaving his microphone on whilst urinating during a broadcast with Alex Jones and other crummy characters of the alt-right, his super-cringe rapping, etc. 

Maybe it was a complaint about the more substantive point that he is manipulating angry, malinformed Americans with a bunch of simple-minded conspiracy theories; theories which I will give him credit for not believing, but have no qualms about giving him discredit for using them against the good of the republic and general welfare of its citizens.

My problem with last week’s note was that I felt bad about talking about Ramaswamy at all. He’s not a contender for the presidency and, in fact, feeds on criticisms like the ones listed above. Talking about him only makes it worse. 

But I did want to explore what’s happening with the Republican electorate and the matter of impeaching Joe Biden. There are many who view it transactionally—basically as a means to punish Democrats for twice impeaching Donald Trump and to harm Biden’s chances for reelection. That may be petty or cynical, but it is straightforward. There are others who sincerely believe that only through an impeachment inquiry can the facts of the case around the president’s son and his sleazy business be uncovered. That’s a more than defensible argument to make. It may not be exactly what the Framers intended, but the standards for impeachment are whatever the House says they are. Good enough. But there’s another cadre of significant size that believes that Biden might not just have been on the take, but that this all goes much, much, much deeper. They have walked through the same portal to the space that gave us birtherism, “Stop the Steal,” Q-Anon, “January 6 was an inside job,” and militant Christian nationalism. They’ve gone into a very bad neighborhood, and Ramaswamy is just one of many who is rolling out the welcome wagon for them. 

On the one hand, who cares? Lots of Americans of all different political and ideological leanings believe lots of things that are not true. Many of those beliefs are similarly tinged with bigotry, envy, and hate for their fellow Americans. And except for the danker corners of the internet, it doesn’t make much difference to normal people. 

On the other hand, the size and strength of this cadre within the Republican Party makes governance very, very difficult. Democrats have a similar, if currently less intense, problem. Consider the matter of Trump and his campaign’s bungled effort to collude with the Kremlin in 2016. On its face, the matter of the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s senior staff and an emissary peddling campaign dirt should have been sufficient evidence that Trump is a nogoodnik. He confirmed that with his call to Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump tried to muscle the Ukrainian president to Trump’s own personal, political advantage. Voters could see those things, just as they can see how corrupt Hunter Biden has been, and how likely it is that there were at least indirect benefits to the Biden family. 

But what if the members of the other party actively deny those obvious truths? And what if persuadable voters sort of shrug it all off as being just more evidence that we have a very rotten political class these days? This would add to the frustrations of normal members of the opposing party, certainly. But what does it do to the kooks and cranks? Where does that send the people who believe not just that Trump is thuggish or that Biden is a hack, but that they are traitors? It all drives them deeper into the bosom of conspiracy theorizing. They come to believe not just the worst about their foes, but that in a wholly corrupt system, nothing can be believed. And there’s Ramaswamy, Jones, et al., telling them that it’s even worse than they ever imagined. So how do you get those people engaged in the boring, necessary work of politics—passing budgets to fund necessary endeavors, certifying elections, appointing admirals, etc.? These aren’t ideological differences, but different realities. And given the power of these cadres in primary elections, they will be pandered to by the ambitious and come to have a veto over the normal functioning of government.

Imagine if the impeachment inquiry comes back like the Russia probe did: Lots of ick, but no hard evidence of the kinds of corruption and treason the Republican cadre already believes, down to its timbers, is obviously true. What if it comes back and voters shrug, having already long ago been well convinced of the younger Biden’s sleaziness and his father’s hackishness? Not likely satisfactory to the folks nodding along to Ramaswamy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It would only be yet more evidence of how much deeper the conspiracy goes. 

So, I needed to talk about Ramaswamy, but I also needed to make clear that he is not a suitable subject for campaign analysis. Indeed, as you would put it, Mr. Johnson, he is beneath such considerations. I did that by making fun of Ramaswamy, which may have been mean of me. I don’t know that it put me in the “race to the bottom of rhetoric,” but I am sure that I could have made those things clear in a way that was less sneering. With him, it’s hard to resist. But I could have done better, no doubt.

“President Biden’s age is a negative in many voters’ eyes. That negative is magnified by the fact that his Vice President, the heir apparent, has a very low approval rating. Why don’t the ‘movers and shakers’ in the Democratic Party do something about that?”—Tom Macmanus, Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Have you seen our political parties lately, Mr. Macmanus? Not a whole lot of shaking going on! Certainly, Biden could decide to dump her, and he could enlist help from monied and influential individuals and groups to try to get her to go quietly, but it would be a very risky, potentially very messy business. If you try to dump your vice president you may end up failing, but even if you succeed, the rift may become public and antagonize whatever faction that led you to pick her in the first place. Kamala Harris does not strike me as someone who would step aside lightly, even with whatever implicit promise of emoluments that might be offered. But there are no party bosses in smoke-filled rooms to give such orders, and no functionaries to carry them out. There’s no more Mark Hannas. There are disorganized clumps of donors and the leaders of interest groups, like unions. But if they could get their acts together, I doubt Biden would even be running for a second term in the first place. 

“Sen. Fetterman is an honest-to-god Western Pennsylvania Democrat. They’re kind of rare so no wonder his ‘progressive’ colleagues seem flummoxed by his positions. Even though you grew up on the other side of the [Monongahela River], you might try to explain that to them. P.S. Hail to Pitt”—Peter Schwartz, Auburn, Alabama

I’m not going to say it, Mr. Schwartz! I don’t think Mr. Johnson would think I had learned my lesson if I gave the correct response to praise for Pitt.


You should email us! Write to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM with your tips, kudos, criticisms, insights, rediscovered words, wonderful names, recipes and, always, good jokes. Please include your real name—at least first and last—and hometown. Make sure to let me know in the email if you want to keep your submission private. My colleague, the Yule-enthused Nate Moore, and I will look for your emails and then share the most interesting ones and my responses here. Clickety clack!


Send your proposed cutline for the picture that appears at the top of this newsletter to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. We will pick the best entrants for each week and an appropriate reward for the best of this month—even beyond the glory and adulation that will surely follow. Be hilarious, don’t be too dirty, and never be cruel. Include your full name and hometown. Have fun!


WELL, IF IT INCLUDES A NUT ROAST …

BBC: “A [Welsh] grandmother who charged her family for Christmas dinner last year has raised her prices for 2023. Caroline Duddridge, 63, previously made her adult relatives pay up to [$19], while her youngest grandchildren got a [$3.17] bill each. But this December it has gone up to cover the increased cost of living and rising food prices. … She even tells her loved ones to transfer the money straight into her bank account, because it is easier to ‘keep track of any stragglers.’ … Caroline argues that, inflation or not, her fees are still good value for money given that her festive spread lasts from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day. Previously that included a mini buffet of sandwiches before a slap-up turkey dinner with all the trimmings on 25 December, along with a nut roast and a choice of four desserts. That would be followed by a full buffet on 26 December.”

Nate Moore contributed to this report.

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the politics editor for NewsNation, co-host of the Ink Stained Wretches podcast, and author of Broken News, a book on media and politics.