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Our Best Stuff on Tucker Carlson, Fani Willis, and More
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Our Best Stuff on Tucker Carlson, Fani Willis, and More

Plus: the third anniversary of the Senate’s second acquittal of Donald Trump.

Vladimir Putin gives an interview to Tucker Carlson at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 6, 2024. (Photo by Gavriil Grigorov/AFP/Getty Images)

Hello and happy Sunday. Fair warning: Sentimentality is running a little high in the Ohio bureau this weekend. When you’re a new parent, life is all about marking firsts: the first teeth, first steps, first birthday. A much more bittersweet experience is tracking lasts: the last homecoming dance, the last piano recital, the last day of school. And what really gets you is the last of the lasts, when it’s your youngest kid experiencing such milestones.

We’re spending the weekend at a regional age-group championship swim meet for our youngest son. The meet is only for swimmers 14 and under, and he’s 14, so this is his last hurrah (not with the sport—he’s got three years of high school and lots of club swimming left). But I’m a little sentimental about this meet since we started coming to it 12 years ago—when our oldest was 8—and our kids have typically enjoyed some success here.

Talk about a “long days, short years” kind of moment. It seems like it’s been only a few years since we had to pack an entire bag of snacks for toddler Wilson to keep him occupied throughout the long morning sessions while his brothers swam. Once, when he was 3 or 4, we had to buy a Beanie Baby from the vendor selling goggles and other swim accessories—because she had let him play with it for an hour to keep him occupied. And I just went back and looked at his race times from the first time he swam this meet and chuckled a little. (I’m happy to report he’s gotten a little faster since he was 6.) 

We don’t always get to remember the “lasts.” The last time you read your kids a bedtime story, help them get dressed, or do their homework might not be obvious. Sometimes, fate intervenes. We knew our middle son was giving up swimming a few years ago, and I’d been prepared to be a little weepy at his last meet. But then he broke his elbow playing baseball and couldn’t finish the swim season—meaning his “last meet” came earlier than we realized. (Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of his baseball career!) 

It might seem silly to reflect on these “lasts,” but I’m not sorry. They are often a good chance to reflect on what has stayed the same (in this case, our son’s love for butterfly to the near exclusion of all the other strokes) and what has changed (many of the families we saw at meets early on I now see only when they post Facebook photos of their kids’ weddings or college graduations). I’d like to think that our kids will remember these moments—the days they recorded their best times, or won their heat, or qualified for a bigger meet—and I want to share those memories with them.

The meet runs through Monday (it’s always always always on Presidents’ Day weekend), and after he swims his last race, the 200-yard butterfly, at finals, we’ll go out for a family dinner. It’s a bit of a tradition, but like everything else it has evolved over the years. His oldest brother is away at college, and our middle son will protest having to go watch swimming, even if his reward is pizza or wings. We’ll talk about the meet and his goals for next season. And then, I suspect, when we get home he’ll continue the family’s unbeaten streak of leaving the wet towels in his swim bag all night. And just this once, I won’t complain.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. 

As if Tucker Carlson hadn’t debased himself enough during his two-hour interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which he let his subject spread propaganda and revisionist history, the former Fox News host continued his tour of Russia by marveling at how affordable a trip to the grocery store was (never mind that $104 for groceries is a lot in a country where the average salary is below $800 a month) and geeking out over some decades-old grocery cart technology. “Tucker’s Slavic version of Supermarket Sweep is not good propaganda,” Nick wrote in Boiling Frogs. “And the news on Friday morning made it look worse.” Nick was referring to the death of dissident Alexei Navalny in a Siberian prison. Navalny was heroic in his opposition to the Putin regime, returning to Russia and certain imprisonment after surviving being poisoned in 2020 with a powerful nerve agent. Carlson did tell the Daily Mail after the Russian opposition leader’s death that “It’s horrifying what happened to Navalny.” But only days before, at an appearance in Dubai, he was asked why he didn’t press Putin on assassinations in general and Navalny specifically—and said that “leadership requires killing people.” As Nick wrote, “Navalny’s death is the exclamation point on a week in which Carlson established himself as a chump for the ages, a man practicing propaganda at a T-ball level and somehow still whiffing on swing after swing.” Speaking of Tucker, Kevin also had some thoughts: “What Carlson was up to in Moscow wasn’t journalism—journalism is what Evan Gershkovich did, and what Tucker did was, at best, tourism. It is tempting to call him a useful idiot, but he isn’t an idiot. He knows what he is doing.”

Unless something crazy happens in South Carolina next Saturday or on Super Tuesday (March 5), Donald Trump will secure his third consecutive Republican nomination for the presidency. In a piece earlier this week, John argued that the GOP’s best chance to prevent that reality actually took place on February 13, 2021—the day the Senate voted against convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial. He looked back at an op-ed published by conservative judge J. Michael Luttig which argued that “an impeachment trial conducted after Trump had left office would be unconstitutional” and noted that provided an off-ramp to many Republicans who would face primary challenges if they voted to convict. John also pointed out that four of the senators who voted to convict Trump have since left office, and he spoke with some of those who voted to acquit, asking them whether they realized “Trump would likely be the 2024 nominee if he wasn’t convicted and disqualified.”

When we launched The Collision, the mission seemed relatively straightforward: Donald Trump was running for president, and he’d been indicted in four separate criminal trials. There was a lot to say, and we had the right people to say it. Who knew it was just the beginning? Since then, Joe Biden has faced his own legal woes, both over his handling of classified documents and his son Hunter’s allegedly corrupt business dealings. And now the people prosecuting Trump are facing their legal challenges of their own, too. In this week’s newsletter, Mike and Sarah checked in on the proceedings in Fulton County, Georgia, where Fani Willis, the district attorney prosecuting Trump, took the stand as a witness in a hearing as one of Trump’s co-defendants is trying to have Willis removed from the case over allegations she hired a romantic partner to serve as a special prosecutor. And Willis was defiant in her testimony. “You’re confused,” she told Ashleigh Merchant, the attorney for co-defendant Michael Roman. “You think I’m on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I’m not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.”

And here’s the best of the rest:

  • Despite Scott Lincicome’s constant reminders and best efforts, U.S. tariff policy is still a mess. In this week’s edition of Capitolism (🔒), he looked at the current state of aluminum tariffs and can do little more than just shake his head. 
  • David Drucker looked back on the collapse of the bipartisan border security deal and writes that the “politics of signing onto achievable, bipartisan immigration legislation was too heavy of a lift for [the Republican] side of the aisle.” And the sources he spoke to don’t see that changing anytime soon.
  • Jonah had some time to think during his recent vacation, and he spent much of it reflecting on a recent podcast interview he did with Hyrum and Verlan Lewis about their book, The Myth of the Left and Right. The brothers argue that, because what the “left” and “right” believe changes so often, the labels are largely meaningless. In Friday’s G-File, Jonah doesn’t entirely disagree, he just argued that we need more—and better—labels.
  • As the bipartisan border deal collapsed, Republicans reverted to arguing that Joe Biden could deal with the border crisis entirely on his own via executive action. There are certainly some things he could do, but as Kristie De Peña explained, the situation is a little more complicated.
  • In Stirewalt on Politics, Chris noted that the Democrats—too late, perhaps—are beginning to take concerns about President Biden’s age and fitness seriously, and wondered whether a progressive campaign to get Michigan voters to write in “uncommitted” in that state’s primary will have any effect.
  • Those who oppose continued support for Ukraine complain that the money would be better spent in America. The thing is, as Mackenzie Eaglen laid out, most of the money that is allocated to Ukraine does stay here.
  • On the pods: In the solo Remnant, Jonah reflected on Alexei Navalny’s death and has a few choice words for Tucker Carlson. On The Dispatch Podcast, Jamie spoke with journalist Chris Moody about Matt Drudge and how Drudge changed the news business—for better and worse. And on Advisory Opinions, Sarah and David discussed a gun-control ruling from the Hawaiian Supreme Court that is heavy on the “spirit of Aloha.”

Rachael Larimore is managing editor of The Dispatch and is based in the Cincinnati area. Prior to joining the company in 2019, she served in similar roles at Slate, The Weekly Standard, and The Bulwark. She and her husband have three sons.