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Stirewaltisms: Second City? What a Pity!
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Stirewaltisms: Second City? What a Pity!

Are the Democrats really considering Chicago for their 2024 convention?


Democrats are reportedly considering Chicago as the site for their 2024 convention. This is an idea so crushingly, mind-numbingly bad that it immediately has the ring of truth to it.

NBC News’ report breaking the story described Chicago as “a city of interest,” which I assume was a Freudian slip in discussing the idea of directing national attention to a place infamous for its crime and mismanagement. But not only does Chicago have an unhappy place in current politics, there’s the historical baggage, too.

Democrats have gathered in Chicago once since the historic debacle of the 1968 convention and ensuing riot. But in 1996, the party was meeting for a perfunctory renomination of a popular incumbent, Bill Clinton. Joe Biden’s renomination or, frankly, candidacy are still open questions. Imagine a contested convention in an ill-managed city in our era of militant radicalism on the far left and far right. The parallels to the bloody melee of 1968 would be only too easy.

My hope for Democrats is that this is just, as my mother would have called it, “bar talk.” Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth draw a lot of water at the Democratic National Committee, so this may just be about humoring them. I can’t imagine that the Obamas want the headaches and pressures a Chicago convention would bring. NBC quotes a Democratic insider who claims that Las Vegas is “a potential strong contender.” Despite the inevitable problems with debauched conventioneers and politicians, Las Vegas would be far better than Chicago.

This is obviously not the biggest political story of the week, but I point it out here only to suggest that the blue team may not yet be aware of current political realities. I assume this will change after November, but so far there seems to be insufficient awareness among Democratic elites that they are in for one hell of a rough two years, years in which unforced errors like a Chicago convention are unaffordable. And no, I’m not just saying this as a Cardinals fan who sees willing proximity to Wrigley Field as a near occasion of sin.

The Republican National Committee has narrowed its choices to two host cities—Milwaukee and Nashville, which is kind of like the Republican version of Las Vegas. I’d probably aim for Tennessee if I were on the committee, preferring to be in a Republican-controlled state when things get weird for the red team, which they certainly will. If it looks like Democrats might have a hostile convention in 2024, Republicans right now seem likely to have one. The Republicans hate each other like New Yorkers hate deep-dish pizza.

But we have lots of time for all that, and since today’s note is chockablock with goodies about the election actually taking place this year, let’s get to it…

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.


Biden job performance

Average approval: 40.8 percent
Average disapproval: 53.8 percent
Net score: -13 points
Change from one week ago: ↑ 1.8 points

[Average includes: Ipsos/Reuters: 42% approve-52% disapprove; NBC News: 40% approve-55% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve-54% disapprove; AP-NORC: 43% approve-56% disapprove; Grinnell College: 34% approve-52% disapprove]

Generic congressional ballot 

Democrats: 42.6 percent
Republicans: 45.4 percent
Net advantage: Republican Party +2.8
Change from one week ago: Republican Party ↓ 0.8 points

[Average includes: NBC News: 41% Democrat, 43% Republican; Monmouth University: 46% Democrat, 46% Republican; Pew Research Center: 43% Democrat, 43% Republican;  Wall Street Journal: 41% Democrat, 46% Republican; ABC News/Washington Post: 42% Democrat, 49% Republican]


The Atlantic: “During the pandemic, disorderly, rude, and unhinged conduct seems to have caught on as much as bread baking and Bridgerton. Bad behavior of all kinds —everything from rudeness and carelessness to physical violence—has increased…The pandemic loosened ties between people: Kids stopped going to school; their parents stopped going to work; parishioners stopped going to church; people stopped gathering, in general. Sociologists think all of this isolation shifted the way we behave. ‘We’re more likely to break rules when our bonds to society are weakened,’ Robert Sampson, a Harvard sociologist who studies social disorder, told me. ‘When we become untethered, we tend to prioritize our own private interests over those of others or the public.’ … Improvement may be slow. But experts think human interaction will, eventually, return to the pre-pandemic status quo. The rise in disorder may simply be the unsavory side of a uniquely difficult time—one in which many people were tested, and some failed.”


AP: “What [National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott] believes is directly at odds with the wishes of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Scott is refusing to abandon an 11-point governing plan he released with little input from party leadership, even after McConnell’s public rebuke one month ago. In the weeks since, Scott has continued to promote his plan, which would raise taxes on millions of Americans who don’t earn enough to pay federal income taxes, in dozens of speeches and media appearances. Those close to Scott suggest he understands the modern Republican Party better than McConnell and his establishment allies. And as tension lingers, Scott is leaving open the possibility of challenging McConnell for Senate majority leader should Republicans retake the Senate majority this fall, although the prospects of him waging a successful effort are slim. Most who know Scott well believe he’s more likely to seek the presidency in 2024.”

As Missouri GOP flirts with disaster on Senate run, Dems land recruit: 

AP: “Anheuser-Busch beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine on Tuesday announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate, shaking up what has been a low-profile Democratic primary in a solidly red state. Busch Valentine’s announcement comes amid widespread calls from Republicans for Eric Greitens to drop out of the race after the Republican former governor’s ex-wife accused him of physically abusing her and one of their kids. The latest scandal renewed Republican concerns that Greitens could win the crowded GOP primary but emerge a damaged candidate in the general election, threatening the party’s chances of keeping what should be a relatively easy win for Republicans. Some Democrats already are positioning the race as everyone else versus Greitens. In a Monday announcement dropping out of the Democratic primary, former state Sen. Scott Sifton endorsed Busch Valentine and called on other Democrats to unite behind her as ‘the best chance to win in November.’”

Alaska special election gets grizzly: New York Times: “How do you replace a man who once willingly put his hand in a steel trap during a congressional hearing until it turned blue? Who waggled an 18-inch walrus penis bone at a top administration official? Who held a knife to the throat of a fellow lawmaker? How, in sum, do you replace Don Young? … For the first time, the state will be using its unique “top four” primary system — and Alaskans aren’t sure what to expect. … Some confusion might be inevitable. In a quirk of scheduling prompted by Young’s death, the regular open primary for his seat will be held the same day as the special general election for his seat. That means Alaskans will be choosing someone to represent them in Washington for the next two years even as they also choose someone to represent them for the remainder of 2022. It could be the same person — or someone completely different.”

Yuval Levin: Our two minority parties: New York Times: “The very fact that voters are unhappy with both parties makes it hard for either one to take a hint from its electoral failures. Even more than polarization, it is the closeness of elections that has degraded the capacity of our democracy to respond to voter pressure. In an era of persistent, polarized deadlock, both parties are effectively minorities — but each continues to think it is on the verge of winning big. … Breaking this pattern would have to start by acknowledging a truism: Bigger majorities are possible if politicians seek broader support. That sounds obvious, yet it has eluded our leaders for a generation because it requires seeing beyond our age of deadlock. … Each party is…left pursuing a losing strategy and saved from disaster only by the fact that the other party is doing the same. The first to realize that this is not working will face a real opportunity.”

Trump seeks Putin’s help on Hunter Biden’s laptop: Politico: “Former President Donald Trump in a new interview called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release information regarding alleged dealings between Eastern European oligarchs and Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son. Trump’s remarks, in an interview with discredited … journalist John Solomon, were published Tuesday by the “Just the News” television show on the Real America’s Voice network.  In making his claims about Hunter Biden, Trump cited the findings of a controversial, highly politicized investigation by Senate Republicans into the Bidens, which was published just weeks before the 2020 election and produced little new evidence of wrongdoing.”

Anita Dunn circumvents Biden ethics rules: Washington Post: “[Democratic public relations and political strategy firm] SKDK’s role [in the Biden White House] shows that Washington still features well-connected operatives moving smoothly between public service and the private sector. … [Senior adviser to the president and SKDK partner Anita Dunn]’s role is questioned by some ethics experts, who say she has, by design or not, avoided rules meant to promote transparency. They cite two main issues: Due to her temporary status and income slightly below a pre-established threshold of $132,552, Dunn did not have to file a public financial disclosure that would have likely shed new light on her clients at SKDK. As a temporary employee, she also did not have to sign the Biden ethics pledge, allowing her to operate by a narrower set of ethics guidelines than regular employees.”


Majority supports Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court—Quinnipiac University

Federal judge presses Ohio elections officials on primary bungle—AP

New Jersey special election officially ends 2020 election cycle—New Jersey Globe

End of COVID restrictions at Mexico border looming—AP

Former Google CEO secretly shaped White House science office—Politico


“Many people are asking, so I’ll give it to you now, it is 100% true” – former President Donald Trump in an official release describing a hole-in-one golf shot which “sailed magnificently … whereupon it bounced twice and then went clank, into the hole.”


“I watched a fair amount of the nomination hearings [for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson], particularly the [Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Thom Tillis] portions.  I thought their behavior was bad—cutting her off, bullying her, and making her pay for the Dems’ behavior toward Kavanaugh—and I was embarrassed for America. I have no problem with grilling nominees on substantive points, etc., but I thought this was pretty far out of bounds and bodes ill for our country.  Does that kind of behavior actually pay off with the Republican base?  How do we turn this around?  I assume the Dems will repay this the next time there is a Republican nominee, and the ‘what aboutism’ will continue.”—Steve Huff, St. Joseph, Missouri

I may have missed something, but what I saw from Tillis seemed different than the histrionics from Cruz and Hawley. The most significant difference seemed to me that Tillis was making what seemed to be good-faith points about germane topics while Cruz and Hawley were not. But, I certainly take your point, which I think was best embodied by Graham, whose ranty opening remarks and questions were not really about Jackson at all, but about expressing his anger, yet again, at his Democratic colleagues for their bad behavior during the hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As you point out, we have come to a bad pass politically in which the parties do not police themselves and only try to make the other side adhere to the rules. But since each party regards the other as fundamentally illegitimate, that means there’s basically no policing going on at all. As for whether this shabby conduct pays off with base voters, I think another way to see what outrage performers like Graham, Cruz and Hawley are doing is not as mere opportunism, but also a fear-based response. Elites in both parties are deathly afraid of their base voters, but particularly so in the GOP. Getting caught being nice to the enemy could come back to haunt them in a future primary or cost them status. The safer bet is to be a jerk, which is why kindness and courtesy are acts of courage.

“I just wanted to gauge how you felt about the uptick in political violence in recent years. I’m only 23 so maybe I was just too young to notice, but it seems like, especially over the past five years, politically motivated violence is becoming more and more common (although, thankfully, still rare). My mind tends to think of the 1/6 insurrection, the BLM riots, the attempt to kidnap Governor [Gretchen Whitmer], and the shooting of the Louisville mayoral candidate, among others. Does this violence concern you at all personally? What do you think it says of the state of the nation that these things are becoming more common? And what do you think we can do, as individuals, to be proactive in preventing these episodes from occurring?”—Justin Bliley, Washington Court House, Ohio

You were born in 1998 or 1999, the peak of America’s vacation from history. The Cold War was won but the consequences of the end of the two-superpower era had not yet arrived. The economy was booming and the dot-com bubble was still inflating. The politics of the era were marked by substantial silliness, yes, but also a widely shared view that the two parties were too much alike. It seemed for a moment that there might be a new consensus emerging around the triangulated politics of the Clintons, a sort of fiscally conservative, socially moderate beige hue. And then … kablooey. I don’t blame any one thingthe Clinton impeachment, 9/11, the invasion of Iraqfor ending that consensus because it was a chimera all along. The late 1990s were the departure, not the norm. The 21st century has been no vacation. It has instead been filled with challenges, many of which have been of our own making. In my Monday column last week, I explored some questions around political violence and unrest in service of this point. Human nature is immutable, therefore the history of humanity repeats the same themes and trends over and over again. I wrote about how the political violence of the 1960s and 1970s far exceeded that of our time, but pick any era and you will find plenty of awful stuff: labor unrest, race riots, assassinations and more. We have ended up in our current predicament because it is human nature to be forgetful and ungrateful. We assume good times will go on forever and are always somehow surprised when the forces that have always shaped history return to kick us squarely in our hindquarters. The American system and our culture have proved remarkably successful at protecting us from the worst depredations of this cycle, but human nature will never be abolished. We can only pray that our re-education will be swift.

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 anonymous. My colleague, the intrepid Samantha Goldstein, and I will look for your emails and then share the most interesting ones and my responses here. Clickety clack! 


(Photograph by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.)

Our winner this week is…

“‘No comment,’ said Steve Schmidt in an alternate universe.”—Jonathan Falk, Rye, New York

Honorable mention: 

“No, Ma’am. Earring and buff means Mr. Clean. Tie and could lose a few pounds means political consultant.”—Reed M. Benet, Jacksonville, North Carolina

Readers should send in their proposed cutline for the picture that appears at the top of today’s newsletter to STIREWALTISMS@THEDISPATCH.COM. We will pick the top entrants 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! 


WKBN: “A reported robbery victim told police that the robber made him ‘pinky promise’ that he wouldn’t call authorities after stealing $80 from him in Warren [Ohio]. The victim said the robbery happened near the Pit Stop gas station around 10:40 p.m. Sunday. … The 22-year-old man said he was walking along Youngstown Road SE when he was approached by a man wearing a ski mask. He said the man asked him if he was a drug dealer, and when he responded that he wasn’t, he said the robber pulled out a pocket knife and demanded money from him. [T]he victim estimated that the robber took about $80 from him before making him ‘pinky promise’ that he wouldn’t call the cops. The robber rode off on a bicycle… Police said the victim was not able to give them a good description of the robber as it was dark at the time of the robbery.”

Chris Stirewalt is a contributing editor at The Dispatch, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of Broken News, a book on media and politics available August 23. Samantha Goldstein contributed to this report.

Chris Stirewalt's Headshot

Chris Stirewalt

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.