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Our Best Stuff on Ukraine, the Midterms, and the Pro-Life Movement
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Our Best Stuff on Ukraine, the Midterms, and the Pro-Life Movement

Plus, it looks like the January 6 committee hearings might be changing hearts and minds.

Hello. I hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Here in the Ohio bureau we are winding down what has been a very long baseball season for our middle son and beginning preparations to take our oldest to college. Don’t worry—I won’t subject you to any sappy reflections on that life-changing moment, at least not today. 

The January 6 committee didn’t have any big public hearings this week, but that doesn’t mean it was out of the news. A few polls are showing that the investigation and hearings might be loosening the stranglehold President Donald Trump has over the Republican Party.  An NPR story I saw this morning summarizes it well:

• Increase in blaming Trump for Jan. 6: A Reuters/Ipsos poll also found that 40% of Republicans said before the last Jan. 6 hearing that they now “believe Trump is at least partially responsible for the deadly riot.” That’s up from 33% before the hearings.

A drop in Republicans saying the election was stolen: Reuters/Ipsos also found that before the hearings began, 67% of Republicans believed the election was stolen, now it’s 55%.

More Republicans saying they don’t want Trump to be the nominee: 55% of Republicans in a recent CNN poll said they don’t want Trump to be their standard-bearer in 2024, up from 49% in February. Similarly, Reuters/Ipsos found a third of Republicans said Trump should not run again, up from a quarter before the Jan. 6 hearings.

It’s not great that more than half of Republicans still believe the election was stolen (have they not read the many, many fact checks we’ve published in the last 20+ months?). But if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that it’s hard to change hearts and minds. No one likes admitting they were wrong, even when the facts are clear. 

We’ve also learned that one way NOT to change minds is to ridicule or shame people. Persuasion is better. And it helps when the people who are doing the persuading are on the “same side” as those who are resistant to facts.

I think that’s one reason the January 6 hearings have been effective in ways that the impeachment trials were not. As I’ve written before, I was frustrated with the impeachment proceedings because in neither case did the Democrats make an attempt to involve Republicans who might have been helpful to the cause. It seemed like Nancy Pelosi was more interested in scoring a political win—and being able to say that Republicans were too in thrall to the president to do what was right. 

It’s not just the presence of Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger on the committee itself, but the fact that so many of the witnesses we’ve heard from are Republicans and former members of the Trump White House. Further, while the revelations have been at times shocking, they were coming from witnesses. The hearings have been well-organized and conducted professionally without the grandstanding and histrionics that so often result from politicians getting free airtime.  

While it’s hard to change minds, even with facts, it is possible. It just requires patience and diligence. Which brings me to my segue … We had a lot of great stuff this week. You’ve heard our spiel before, about how we value reporting over hot takes, about how we want to give you informed and in-depth analysis. It takes more work, but we think you’re getting a better value for your time and your investment in us. 

I want to highlight one piece in particular before I go. Harvest spoke with crisis pregnancy center directors and other pro-life activists about how the movement is responding to the Dobbs decision. It’s a great piece on its own, but it reflects the kind of work we’ll be doing for a long time on this issue. While the overturning of Roe v. Wade was almost anti-climactic after the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, the ruling will have a profound effect on our society. And there have been times I’ve been unimpressed by the response of both sides of the issue. Liberals have been particularly harsh in their comments about crisis pregnancy centers and the larger pro-life movement. They’ve ignored the violence that CPCs and pro-life groups have been subject to. At the same time, some of the laws that have passed or are moving through state legislatures are written vaguely and causing such confusion that there are reports that patients can’t fill prescriptions for drugs that might also be abortifacients and that doctors and hospitals are unsure of when they can perform abortions in the event of a medical emergency. We have pieces coming in the next few weeks that address all of these issues in a thorough, factual manner. 

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Charlotte checks in with a deeply reported update on the war in Ukraine focused on Russia’s efforts in the southern portion of the country and how the Putin regime is defending its efforts to “Russify” the area. The mayor of Kherson has been taken captive, and Russia has forcibly relocated somewhere between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens, including hundreds of thousands of children. Putin cited “preventing genocide” as a nominal excuse for his February invasion, but it’s Russia’s conduct that likely meets the definition of genocide under the 1948 U.N. convention. “Deportation is just one of the elements of this genocide. They are repeating the same playbook that they used in the Soviet times, now in eastern and southern Ukraine. They are either destroying the cities by shelling and depriving them of the population this way—by killing the population, forcing the population to flee,” Oleg Tokariuk, a Kyiv-based journalist and researcher, told The Dispatch

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs that overturned Roe v. Wade, liberals have become more vocal in their criticism of crisis pregnancy centers, which seek to offer women alternatives to abortion and often help make arrangements for housing and needed supplies. Harvest spoke to several clinic staffers and directors and pro-life activists to get their take on how CPCs can respond to the inevitable demand for their services as states move to restrict our outlaw abortion. ““We walk through this journey with families from pregnancy all the way until their baby is 18 months of age,” Melanie Miller, director of a CPC in Ashland, Ohio, said. “The argument we hear over and over is, oh, when the baby is born, we don’t care about them. That’s not the case at all. We want families to get a good solid start in life.” But there is also more work to be done, Destiny Herndon-de La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, told Harvest: “Housing, childcare, transportation, and in rural areas, healthcare. Those are the four main things that we have women asking for and we are sorely unprepared to meet the needs in those areas. I think we have to step up and provide those resources and it’s going to be a patchwork of resources.”

Former President Trump’s hold over the GOP has been perhaps the dominant story of the midterm primaries: Who he’s endorsing, how his preferred candidates have fared, what candidates say and do to garner his support. But it’s also worth looking at what other Republicans are saying and doing. Audrey got a bit of a scoop this week when she talked to retiring Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey. Toomey told Audrey that he will support Dr. Mehmet Oz in the race to replace him, but he stayed quiet on whether he would support GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano. Mastriano’s campaign subsidized buses to take attendees to the January 6 rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol and he was also at the Capitol that day. Audrey also reports on how some Pennsylvania Republicans and the RNC are warming up to the idea of supporting Mastriano. 

The Electoral Count Act is a brief but deeply flawed law that was passed in the wake of the disputed 1876 election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden. How flawed? David explains in Tuesday’s French Press (🔒). “It’s worse than a mess. It grants Congress the power to object to the counting of votes on flimsy or nonexistent pretexts, it permits Congress to overturn a presidential election upon a simple majority vote, and it fails to explicitly limit the power of the vice president.” Donald Trump exploited those flaws in his attempt to overturn the election. A bipartisan group of senators has put forth the Electoral Count Reform Act, and David argues that we need to pass it—now. And so he is frustrated that a handful of Democrats are complaining about the bill and want to use it to push through other election integrity measures. He writes: “As 2020 demonstrated, failure could be catastrophic. It would leave in place the very structure that could empower a congressional coup at the same time that Trump could very well run for office enjoying both House and Senate GOP majorities, including a majority of members who already challenged an election once. We should not doubt they’d do so again.”

Here’s the best of the rest:

  • Anticipating the announcement Thursday that GDP had shrunk for a second straight quarter—the widespread definition of a recession—the Biden administration released a statement saying that no, that’s not a recession, citing the National Bureau of Economic Research, which uses different metrics. Who gets to decide what a recession is? Augustus Bayard explains the different methods and why they are used. 

  • Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed a candidate in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary race, but the three leading candidates are all serving up some variation on a MAGA agenda. Andrew looks at the similarities and differences between U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and former Gov. Eric Greitens.

  • Most Americans live in what Ryan Streeter calls the “ideological heartland”–they’re realists who care about solutions to practical problems, not overzealous activists who care only about hot-button issues. Progressives are entirely out of touch with this crowd, and show it by focusing too much attention on a vocal but small base of supporters.

  • In the Friday G-File, Jonah engages in a little puerile punnery about Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book, Manhood, and then takes issue with a speech by Thomas Klingenstein, the chairman of the Claremont Institute, in which Klingenstein holds up Donald Trump as the model of masculinity. “This new manliness celebrates the will to power, personal gratification, and the rejection of virtues in service of self-assertion and the conquest of others.”

  • Can’t forget the pods! Advisory Opinions has a great accompaniment to David’s newsletter on the Electoral Count Reform Act, as he and Sarah talk to Judge Michael Luttig, who advised Vice President Mike Pence in the days leading up to January 6 and was among the conservatives who recently published a study refuting election fraud claims. How should conservatives approach economic policy? Jonah and guest David Bahnsen discuss that question in spectacularly wonky fashion on The Remnant. Sarah and Mo Elleithee wade into how to fix our really, really bad politics on The Dispatch Podcast. If you come away from that with a desire for more discussion, check out David’s interview with Justin Giboney, co-founder of the AND Campaign about grappling with extremism, on Good Faith

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.