Get up to speed on impeachment. What happens next?

CNN’s Zachary Wolf offers a very helpful summary here. The piece explains why the Senate might hold an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office. Here is a taste:

What’s the point of holding an impeachment trial for a former President? There is precedent for impeaching former officials. Read about that — it’s called a “late impeachment” — here. While the main penalty for a guilty verdict in an impeachment trial is removal from office, senators could vote to bar Trump from holding office in the future — remember, he has not ruled out running for president in 2024. He could also lose his six-figure pension and other post-presidential perks.

Read the entire piece here.

Did American exceptionalism survive Trump?

Bloomsburg writer Mihir Sharma says that Americans shouldn’t get so uptight about apparent threats to their democracy.

Maybe sometimes we need an international voice to help us keep things in perspective. Here is a taste of Sharma’s piece, “World shouldn’t laugh at U.S. too soon“:

Remember: Donald Trump was impeached once and might be again. He has been repudiated by several influential leaders of his own party. He has lost re-election and all his attempts to overturn the result have failed. His party has been rewarded for its embrace of populism with the loss of not just the White House but also of both chambers of the legislature. And Trump himself has been cornered into conceding defeat. That is what you might objectively call a drubbing.

Such a drubbing is not, I hasten to assure you, the usual result of electing a populist. Generally, such leaders ensconce themselves comfortably in power and their victory margins seem mysteriously to grow with each election. There are far too many places where voting is always free but rarely fair, and where democratic despots seem never to be deposed. I wonder how we can even drum up the enthusiasm to mock America, which is emphatically and demonstrably not one of those countries.

I don’t want to minimize the damage that Trump could and did do to America. And it is an open question whether another four years in power would have left the U.S. completely incapable of resisting his corrupting influence. Yet, in comparison to other nations — from Russia to Turkey, Hungary to India — American institutions have demonstrated their value and resilience. Liberal democracies are only as robust as their institutions are independent and their officers are honest. And, because institutions and officials in the U.S. preserved their integrity, Trump was forced to fight a free and fair election — and will have to leave after he convincingly lost it.

In America, judges — even those appointed by Trump — threw out dozens of frivolous court cases. That’s what an independent judiciary does and it is also why populists in places such as Poland and India are reducing judges’ freedom to maneuver.

In America, even Republican officials such as Georgia’s governor and secretary of state stood up to their party’s leader, bluntly refusing to follow his bidding. I’m struggling to imagine an equivalent phone call between, say, Vladimir Putin and a provincial leader from United Russia.

And in America, an adversarial media actually reported on Trump’s corruption in power, as well as his attempts to retain it illegally. We were told in great detail about the colossal ineptitude of his legal team and the poverty of their arguments. In India, the media — even those so adept with puns — would never present the case for ruling-party venality and ineptitude as clearly.

Face it, the death of American exceptionalism has been greatly exaggerated. 

Read the entire piece here.

Ten Republicans voted for the second impeachment of Donald Trump. At least three of them were evangelical Christians

Adam Kinzinger (IL) attends Village Christian Church of Channahon, Illinois, a non-denominational evangelical congregation that appears to have some connection to the Church of Christ tradition.

Liz Cheney (WY) identifies as a United Methodist.

John Katko (NY) is a Catholic.

Fred Upton (MI) identifies as a Protestant.

Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA) is an evangelical Christian who attends City Harvest Church in Vancouver, WA. (She is pictured above).

Dan Newhouse (WA) is an elder at Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, a member of the Presbyterian Church-USA. This church has some links to evangelicalism. The pastor, Mike Souza, is a graduate of Denver Baptist Bible College, Colorado Christian University, and George Fox University.

Peter Meijer (MI) does not seem to make religion a central component of his political identity.

Anthony Gonzalez (OH) is a Catholic.

Tom Rice (SC) is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. It is is an evangelical Anglican congregation. Interestingly enough, Rice also objected to the certification of the Electoral College vote.

David Valadao (CA) is a Catholic.

Donald Trump just got impeached for the second time. How are the court evangelicals handling it?

The days of the Trump court evangelicals are ending. Right now the big question is whether their king will make it to January 20. The House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump today. Ten members of Trump’s own party voted to impeach him, making this the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. We are now waiting to see how the Senate will respond.

The court evangelicals do not usually respond to current events in real time, but there a few things to report.

The Twitter feed at the Falkirk Center at Liberty University is saying nothing about the impeachment or the insurrection. The feed is filled with tweets about free speech.

Jenna Ellis believes conservative principles are founded on God’s word. (I assume she believes “liberal” principles are not). The verses she quotes in tweet below are all about paying “evil” with “evil.” So apparently she believes that the impeachment of Donald Trump was a form of evil. Ellis wants you to think she is taking the high road here, but she is really manipulating scripture to take yet another shot at her enemies. I don’t expect to see tweets of love toward Joe Biden anytime soon.

Blessed are those who lose their Twitter and Facebook feeds for promoting conspiracy theories:

Richard Land is preaching moral equivalence:

Jim Garlow is still holding his “election integrity” prayer meetings:

Today on his Facebook page, Garlow wrote: “The House of Representatives vote. Despicable.”

Robert Jeffress is gearing-up for Sunday morning:

What does White mean by this tweet?:

Interesting:

Actually, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration begins with taking a hard look at the mistakes of the past:

Franklin Graham endorsed Mike Pence’s use of scripture last night:

Thaddeus Stevens: “In rebuilding, it is necessary to clear away the rotten and defective portions of the old foundations, and to sink deep and found the repaired edifice upon the firm foundation of eternal justice….”

This morning I listened to the debate on impeachment that took place on the floor of the house. The defenders of Donald Trump were arguing that the impeachment of Donald Trump would divide the country and undermine national unity. Mike Pence said essentially the same thing last night when he refused set in motion the process to invoke the 25th Amendment.

As I listened, I pulled David Blight’s Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory off the shelf. The book has a lot to say about calls for “unity” and “healing” in the wake of a tragedy. Here are some pertinent quotes:

p.3: “Americans faced an overwhelming task after the Civil War and emancipation: how to understand the tangled relationship between two profound ideas–healing and justice.”

p.3: “Human reconciliations–when tragically divided people unify again around aspirations, ideas, and the positive bonds of nationalism–are to be cherished. But sometimes reconciliations have terrible costs, both intentional and unseen. The sectional reunion after so horrible a civil war was a political triumph by the late nineteenth century, but it could not have been achieved without the resubjugation of many of those people whom the war had freed from centuries of bondage.

p.53: “In 1866-67, all sides in the epic Reconstruction debates seemed to hear and speak in the tones of requiem. But this requiem was badly out of tune, its harmony discordant.”

p.55: “But in the minds of radical leaders healing could wait. As the House of Representatives was about to vote on the Fourteenth Amendment., [Thaddeus] Stevens declared: ‘in rebuilding, it is necessary to clear away the rotten and defective portions of the old foundations, and to sink deep and found the repaired edifice upon the firm foundation of eternal justice….’ The tragedy of Reconstruction is rooted in this American paradox: the imperative of healing and the imperative of justice could not, ultimately, cohabit the same house.”

Will a third political party emerge?

Some are suggesting that the Republican Party could split into principled conservatives and Trump populists. The next four years will also reveal the depth of the divisions within the Democratic Party. How hard will the progressives in the party challenge Joe Biden and the moderates? Or maybe we will see a unification of Republican moderates and Democratic moderates.

Whatever the case, I found Sriram Laksham’s interview with presidential historian Jeffrey Engel to be informative. Engel directs the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Here is a taste of the interview, published at The Hindu:

Laksham: If appears that people in the Republican party are torn between sticking with Trump or standing for the “real” Republican party. Do you think that there’s going to be a third major political party forming in the near term?

Engle: I’m glad you asked that. That’s what history suggests. Remember that one way to understand the entire Trump presidency and candidacy is as a civil war within the Republican party. That Donald Trump ran against the Democratic party, but also ran against traditional Republicans — the George W. Bush-Mitt Romney wings of the Republican party. Obviously he was successful in controlling the party and then ultimately winning the presidency, but those people haven’t gone away. And I think that what we’re seeing is quite likely a moment where the Republican party, I think, as a brand is going to continue moving forward.

That doesn’t mean everybody who’s in the Republican party is going to continue under that brand, which suggests — especially given that the people who are most antagonistic towards Trump are by and large towards the centre of the political spectrum and there is of course a centre wing of the democratic party as well — that there is a ripe moment here for a coalescing of these two into a new political party.

Now, before Democrats get very excited about that, I should point out that every previous time in American history we’ve seen one party collapse, it takes the other party down with it over the course of the next several election cycles, just because it completely realigns the interest groups and the coalitions and the alliances within the broad electorate. So I think that there’s a good chance of the Republican party is in its death throes. As we currently see it, I think Republicans will continue. I don’t necessarily know that their party is going to continue as is currently formed.

Read the entire interview here.

Trump to Pence: “You can either go down in history as a patriot or you can do down in history as a p___sy”

Here is Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and Annie Karni at The New York Times:

For Vice President Mike Pence, the moment of truth had arrived. After three years and 11 months of navigating the treacherous waters of President Trump’s ego, after all the tongue-biting, pride-swallowing moments where he employed strategic silence or florid flattery to stay in his boss’s good graces, there he was being cursed by the president.

Mr. Trump was enraged that Mr. Pence was refusing to try to overturn the election. In a series of meetings, the president had pressed relentlessly, alternately cajoling and browbeating him. Finally, just before Mr. Pence headed to the Capitol to oversee the electoral vote count last Wednesday, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either go down in history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people briefed on the conversation, “or you can go down in history as a pussy.”

The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

Read the rest here.

Historians call for the second impeachment of Donald Trump

Here is the statement from the Historians and Legal Scholars for Impeachment.

As American historians and constitutional scholars, we support the impeachment and removal of President Donald J. Trump. Throughout his presidency, Trump has defied the Constitution and broken laws, norms, practices, and precedents, for which he must be held accountable now and after he leaves office. No future president should be tempted by the example of his defiance going unpunished.

One of Trump’s earlier abuses of power did result in his impeachment on December 18, 2019, for attempting to coerce a foreign power to interfere in the U.S. presidential election of 2020. But since November 2020, Trump has refused to accept the results of a free and fair election, something no president before him has ever done. Instead of engaging in the peaceful transfer of power, he encouraged an insurrection by a mob of his supporters on January 6, 2021, urging them to march on the U.S. Capitol, to “fight,” in his word, and halt the constitutionally prescribed process of counting the Electoral Votes that would confirm former Vice President Joseph R. Biden as President-Elect.

By fomenting violence against the Congress and seeking to subvert constitutional democracy, which resulted in the killing of a Capitol police officer and the deaths of several rioters, Trump has violated his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. He is a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States. He has disqualified himself from continuing to serve out even his few remaining days as president, as well as from ever again holding, according to the Constitution, “any Office of honor, Trust or profit under the United States.” We urge members of the House of Representatives to conduct a speedy impeachment and the Senate to hold a prompt trial as the Constitution stipulates.

Signers include: Eric Alterman, Fred Anderson, Rick Atkinson, Sarah Barringer Gordon, Mia Bay, Thomas Bender, Mary Beth Norton, David Blight, Claire Potter, Patricia Bonomi, Eileen Boris, Taylor Branch, John Brooke, Richard D. Brown, Kathleen Brown, Jon Butler, David Chappell, Ron Chernow, Joseph Crespono, Robert Dallek, Andrew Delbanco, Gregory Downs, Mary Dudziak, Jeffrey Engel, Michael Dyson, Nicole Eustace, Ann Fabian, Daniel Feller, Michael Flamm, Francois Furstenberg, Neal Gabler, Gary Gerstle, Jonathan Gienapp, Todd Gitlin, Lawrence Glickman, Adam Goodheart, Eliga Gould, Edward Gray, Steven Hahn, Karen Halttunen, Andrew Hartman, Nicole Hemmer, Eric Hinderaker, Martha Hodes, David Hollinger, Benjamin Irvin, Meg Jacobs, Karl Jacoby, Jacqueline Jones, Joseph Peniel, Jane Kamensky, David Kennedy, Kevin Kruse, Christine Heyrman, Dahlia Lithwick, Staughton Lynd, Louis Masur, Kevin Mattson, John McWhorter, Steven Mintz, Timothy Naftali, Mae Ngai, Rick Perlstein, Jack Rakove, Eric Rauchway, Daniel Rodgers, Renee Romano, Doug Rossinow, Jonathan Sarna, Virginia Scharff, Stacy Schiff, Kevin Schultz, Robert Self, Rick Shenkman, Manisha Sinha, Jason Sokol, Thomas Sugrue, Jeremi Suri, Sam Tanenhaus, Gil Troy, Ted Widmer, Sean Wilentz, Alan Wolfe, Conrad Wright, Rosemarie Zagarri, Jonathan Zimmerman, and Michael Zuckerman.

Yes, I also signed it.

Mike Pence quotes Ecclesiastes; says it is time for the nation to heal

Last night the House of Representatives asked Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. He refused to do it.

Here is the letter he sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

The next to last paragraph caught my attention. Pence quotes part of Ecclesiastes 3. He writes, “The Bible says that ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to heal…and a time to build up.'”

Here is the entire passage:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace

There are a lot of ways one could manipulate this passage. For example, one could say that it is time to “uproot” this president and “tear down” his administration so we can “build up” democracy. Or perhaps this verse is telling us that it is a time to “weep” and “mourn” for what Trump put the nation through during the last four years. For Pence and the GOP, maybe the last four years was a “time to speak” instead of a “time to be silent.” And so on. This is why I hate it when politicians try to use Bible verses to justify their specific political decisions.

Pence goes on: “In the midst of the global pandemic, economic hardship for millions of Americans, and the tragic events of January 6, now is the time for us to come together, now is the time to heal.”

But is it really?

Pence’s call for healing rings hollow. It comes from a man who stood faithfully behind Trump for four years. The Trump administration, including Pence, had a lot to do with the spread of the global pandemic, the economic hardship Americans are now facing, and the events of January 6.

Yes, we need to heal, but first we must remove Trump from office and crush his ability to get back into the political arena, a place where he can continue his divisive and disruptive ways. If Pence is serious about healing, he would do his part to cast Trump into the dustbin of history and make sure that his attempts to propagate a “lost cause” movement are weakened.

Remember that Lincoln’s conciliatory Second Inaugural Address took place after the Confederacy was all but defeated.

Franklin Graham asks, “Where does this hate [in America] come from?” (And other court evangelical news).

Eric Metaxas, radio host and fellow at Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, is encouraging everyone to trust God in midst of this intense period of persecution for the church. The persecution, he claims, is coming from Marxists who removed him from Twitter for twelve hours yesterday. He quotes Patrick Henry famous phrase, “give me liberty or give me death.” The difference between Henry and Metaxas is that Henry was responding to facts and Metaxas is responding to a conspiracy theory about the supposed stealing of the 2020 presidential election. He is still expecting God to perform a miracle that will allow Trump to stay in office and restore all social media accounts. Finally, Metaxas says not to “demonize” people. This is rich coming from a guy who has has used his platform to demonize Democrats for four years, even calling them Satanic. When he demonizes others he quickly says that he was “joking” about it. Watch:

One of Metaxas’s guests today was former Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. She was apparently in the U.S. Capitol as part of a “prayer force” when the insurrection took place on January 6, 2021. She was there to pray that Congress would not certify the 2020 Electoral College votes. Both Metaxas and Bachmann once again suggest that very few of the insurrections were part of the “happy” and “joyous” Trump supporters in Washington that day. Bachmann describes the entire riot as “identity theft.” The Left, by spreading this narrative of the violent Trump supporter, is stealing Trump’s identity as a great leader. What happened during the 2020 election, Bachmann believes, was a political coup–a takeover of a legitimate government. She is 100% sure that the Democrats stole the election. Metaxas and Bachmann are preparing for persecution.

Metaxas and Bachmann say that evangelicals who criticize them for their views on election fraud are “conforming” to the world. Neither of them present any evidence of election fraud. Metaxas just has a feeling about it based on the way Biden behaved in the weeks before the election.

Watch:

Bottom line: The Trump presidency may not make it to January 20. Metaxas and Bachmann are going down with it. Metaxas is positioning himself as the evangelical voice of Trump’s lost cause. Bachmann is doing the same thing from her new post at Pat Roberston’s Regent University.

The Falkirk Center at Liberty University is also talking about free speech. White evangelicals are in full victimization mode.

Believe it or not, Falkirk Center (Liberty University) founder Charlie Kirk did not tweet today. Did he get banned?

Kirk is now calling for unity. Over the last four years Charlie Kirk has been one of the most divisive people in the United States. As David Blight taught me years ago through his book Race and Reunion, calls for unity often ignore the unjust things that happened in the immediate past. They tend to paper over injustice. Historians will hold Kirk and his rhetoric partly responsible for the first attack on the U.S. Capitol in American history. These commentators on Majority Report are absolutely correct:

Samuel Rodriguez says repentance begins with him:

On Sunday, Rodriguez called the evangelical church to repentance for making “the person who occupies the White House more important than the one who occupies our hearts.”

Court evangelical journalist David Brody says that the insurrectionists did not represent “#MAGA Nation”:

A quick word about this tweet. As I argued earlier today, I don’t think those who stormed the U.S. Capitol represent American evangelicals (Brody’s primary audience). Nor do they represent all Trump voters. But they certainly represent the kind of people who attend rallies and scream “Make America Great Again.” I would like Brody to explain the difference between these people and the people he calls #MAGA Nation.”

I am still wondering what evangelicals did before Twitter and Facebook. At a time when they should be mourning the near collapse of American democracy and reflecting on how their view of Christian politics led to the enabling of Donald Trump, they are playing the victim. This is par for the course. Here is court evangelical Richard “unprecedented access” Land complaining about free speech.

Jack Hibbs, in an apparent act of protest, has left Twitter. He is fleeing persecution by retreating to his personal web page.

Robert Jeffress has no clue that he empowered this twice-impeached president. History, however, will remember.

You can’t make this stuff up. Franklin Graham asks “Where does this hate come from?”

Will Trumpism endure?

Yale Historian David Blight argues that “Trumpism has already become a lethal Lost Cause.” Here is a taste of his piece at The New York Times:

If, as many Civil War scholars have suggested, the Confederate Lost Cause was born in the imagery of Lee’s manly and noble surrender to Ulysses Grant at Appomattox in April 1865, perhaps the Trump Lost Cause has been born in the indelible imagery of the rioters scaling and assaulting the U.S. Capitol in January 2021. Their story, however fraught with lies and misguided beliefs, has tremendous traction among a majority of sitting Republicans in Congress, in the constellation of right-wing media and now in their thousands of veterans of the march on the Capitol. They may soon need a new high priest with much better political talent; there is no lack of candidates awaiting their chance.

Mr. Trump lost, but he and his minions may yet find ways, if they keep their deep foothold in the Republican Party, to manufacture a dreamlike story of future victory for their unstable coalition of an unhindered ruling class, Christian nationalism and the aggrieved white working class. Whether Trumpism can ever attain the staying power of the Confederate Lost Cause is unclear. It may flame out in a few years like the bad TV show it has always been. But the shock of Trumpists’ inevitable attack on the American experiment on Wednesday, Jan. 6, hit like a thunderbolt. They will be back. It will surely take great political skill and moral imagination across American culture, from the Biden administration to every teacher in the land, to fight this new Lost Cause ideology. The country needs healing and unity, but it needs justice and better storytelling of its history more.

Read the entire piece here. In Fall 2021, Blight will deliver Messiah University’s annual American democracy lecture.

The House will impeach Trump, but will the Senate convict?

If you asked me this question twenty four hours ago I would have answered, “probably not.” But now I am not so sure.

Today we learned that Mitch McConnell, the outgoing Senate majority leader, said that Donald Trump did commit an impeachable offense by inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection. He is pleased that the House will impeach (again) the president tomorrow. But will he allow a trial to take place?

Here is The New York Times;

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country.

Read the rest here. Or at CNN.

Meanwhile, John Katko of New York became the first Republican to announce that he will vote for Trump’s impeachment tomorrow. Liz Cheney is the second Republican. CNN is reporting this as I type.

Trump still thinks he did nothing wrong. Today he doubled-down.

CNN and other outlets are reporting that congressmen Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Mo Brooks (AL) worked closely with Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the event that led to the protest.

Stay tuned.

Civil War historians remind us that anti-democratic violence has “deep roots” in the United States

Historians Gregory Downs and Kate Masur edit The Journal of the Civil War Era. In a recent piece at The Washington Post, they remind us that what we saw on January 6, 2021 was, in one sense, very American.

Here is a taste of “Yes, Wednesday’s attempted insurrection is who we are“:

It is tempting to consider Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol an exception in U.S. history, but the presence of Confederate flags and Sen. Ted Cruz’s ill-founded reliance on the 1876-1877 election crisis to justify baseless challenges to the 2020 electoral results remind us that anti-democratic violence has deep roots here, especially in the period of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Public invocations of American ideals of democracy and the peaceful transition of power serve some good purposes. Yet our country also has a long history of authoritarianism, white supremacy and political violence, one that cannot be ignored without misunderstanding the depth and endurance of the problems we face as a nation and the breadth of the solutions these problems require.

The shocking scenes Wednesday at the Capitol remind us that there have always been Americans who have little regard for procedures established by the Constitution. When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, political leaders in South Carolina refused to accept the result, fearing that a Lincoln presidency would lead to the weakening of Southern political power and ultimately to the elimination of slavery. Ten other Southern states eventually joined in rejecting the election’s outcome and declaring that they intended to form a nation of their own.

Read the rest here.

#capitolsiegereligion

Peter Manseau, the Lilly Endowment Curator of American Religious History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, is collecting tweets documenting the use of religious rhetoric at the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Read them or share your own at #capitolsiegereligion. Here is a taste:

What was Trump doing when the insurrection unfolded?

Olivia Nuzzi has some good reporting at New York Magazine. Here is a taste of her piece, “Senior Trump Official: We Were Wrong, He’s a ‘Fascist’“:

On Friday afternoon, 48 hours after the U.S. Capitol was stormed by violent insurrectionists encouraged by Donald Trump in an attempt to overthrow the government in protest of his election loss, a senior member of his administration spoke to me while he was driving to work.

“This is confirmation of so much that everyone has said for years now — things that a lot of us thought were hyperbolic. We’d say, ‘Trump’s not a fascist,’ or ‘He’s not a wannabe dictator.’ Now, it’s like, ‘Well, what do you even say in response to that now?’”

For four years, people like this official — lifelong Republican operatives — have convinced themselves that Trump’s obvious faults were worth tolerating if it meant implementing a conservative policy agenda. These officials believed the benefits of remaking the courts with conservative justices, or passing tax reform, outweighed the risks that a Trump presidency posed to democracy and to the reputation of the country in the world. Now, at the 11th hour, with 12 days left before Joe Biden is sworn into office, it’s clear to some that it was always a delusion.

And this:

This adviser, who spoke to Trump on Wednesday amid the siege, said Trump watched the events on television intently. CNN reported that he was so excited by the action, it “freaked out” some staffers around him. The adviser told me that Trump expressed disgust on aesthetic grounds over how “low class” his supporters looked. “He doesn’t like low-class things,” the adviser said, explaining that Trump had a similar reaction over the summer to a video of Brad Parscale, his former campaign manager, shirtless and drinking a beer in his driveway during a mental-health emergency in which police tackled him and seized his weapons. “He kept mentioning, ‘Oh, did you see him in his beer shirt?’ He was annoyed. To him, it’s just low class, in other words.”

Read the entire piece here.

Court evangelicalism “was not harmless”

Here is Bonnie Kristian at Christianity Today:

The madness in Washington last week was not created ex nihilo. It is the due result of five years of humoring deception, of falsely believing that truth could be brought about by lies. It is what happens when you embrace a president who is dishonest in the little things, and the big things, and just about everything. It is what happens when you “call evil good and good evil” for the sake of political convenience or power (Isa. 5:20). It is what happens when warnings about the importance of character are ignored. It is what happens when those who cautioned their fellow evangelicals against backing Trump—because he has lived a very public life of gaudy rapacity, vainglory, cruelty, dishonesty, and lust—are attacked and dismissed as “liberals” or accused of insufficient care for the unborn.

Read the entire piece here.

New England Patriots football coach Bill Belichick will not accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday

John F. Kennedy gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to E.B. White, Thornton Wilder, Felix Frankfurter, and Marion Anderson, among others.

Lyndon Johnson list of medal honorees included on John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney, Aaron Copland, T.S. Eliot, John Lewis, Walter Lippman, Carl Sandburg, John Steinbeck, Reinhold Niebuhr, Helen Keller, A. Philip Randolph, Ralph Ellison, and Bob Hope.

Richard Nixon honored Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and John Ford, to name a few.

Gerald Ford gave the medal to Jesse Owens, Irving Berlin, Omar Bradley, Joe DiMaggio, Bruce Catton, Will Durant, Lady Bird Johnson, Georgia O’Keefe, James Michener, and Norman Rockwell.

Jimmy Carter bestowed the medal on Andrew Young, Earl Warren, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, Robert Penn Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Tennessee Williams, Hubert Humphrey, Beverly Sills, Martin Luther King Jr., Jonas Salk, Margaret Mead, and Ansel Adams.

Ronald Reagan’s list of medal winners included Billy Graham, Jacob Javits, Dumas Malone, Bear Bryant, James Cagney, Whittake Chambers, Louis L’Amour, Norman Vincent Peale, Jackie Robinson, Anwar Sadat, Eunice Kennedy Shrives, Count Basie, Jacques Cousteau, Frank Sinatra, Mother Theresa, Jimmy Stewart, Chuck Yeager, Helen Hayes, Barry Goldwater, Danny Kaye, Pearl Bailey, and Milton Friedman.

George H.W. Bush gave the medal to Lucille Ball, George Kennan, George Schultz, Lech Walesa, James Baker, William F. Buckley, Betty Ford, Tip O’Neill, Friedrich Hayek, Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Ted Williams, David Brinkley, Johnny Carson, Ella Fitzgerald, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Petty, Elie Wiesel, I.M. Pei, and Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton awarded Arthur Ashe, William Brennan, J. William Fulbright, Thurgood Marshall, Martha Raye, Cesar Chavez, Barbara Jordan, Sargent Schriver, John Hope Franklin, C. Everett Koop, James Brady, Rosa Parks, Bob Dole, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, Gerald Ford, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jesse Jackson, George McGovern, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

George W. Bush’s list included Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby (woops), Placido Domingo, Katharine Graham, Irving Kristol, Nelson Mandela, Nancy Reagan, Fred Rogers, Jacques Barzun, Julia Child, Roberto Clemente, Vaclav Havel, Charlton Heston, John Wooden, Doris Day, John Paul II, Rita Moreno, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett, Andy Griffith, Paul Harvey, Jack Nicklaus, Frank Robinson, B.B. King, David McCullough, Francis Collins, Harper Lee, Ben Carson, Anthony Fauci, and Tony Blair.

Barack Obama gave the award to Jack Kemp, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kennedy, Billy Jean King, Harvey Milk, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, Warren Buffett, George H.W. Bush, John Lewis, Yo-Yo Ma, Stan Musial, Bill Russell, Madeleine Albright, Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison, John Paul Stevens, Ernie Banks, Ben Bradlee, Bill Clinton, Richard Lugar, Sally Ride, Loretta Lynn, Bayard Rustin, Dean Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Ethel Kennedy, Meryl Streep, Marlo Thomas, Stevie Wonder, Steven Spielberg, Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan, Itzhak Perlman, Barbara Streisand, James Taylor, Shirley Chisolm, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Cicely Tyson, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Lorne Michaels, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill and Melinda Gates, Vin Scully, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and Joe Biden.

Donald Trump has given the award to Orrin Hatch, Edwin Meese, Jerry West, Tiger Woods, Mariano Rivera, Arthur Laffer, Lou Holtz, Rush Limbaugh, and Jim Ryun, to name a few.

This year Trump is giving the award to Olympic athlete Bad Didrikson Zaharias (she died in 1956), pro-Trump congressman Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan (I assume based on their defense of Trump during the impeachment hearings in the House), Gary Player (whose does not want him to accept it), women’s golfer Annika Sorenstam.

Patriots coach Bill Belichik, who was also scheduled to receive a 2021 Medal of Freedom, refuses to accept it. Here is CNN:

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has announced that he is declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was scheduled to receive from President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Belichick cited the “tragic events of last week” as leading to his decision. Pro-Trump rioters rampaged in the US Capitol last Wednesday. Five people died as a result of the chaos, including a US Capitol Police officer. House Democrats want to impeach Trump, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection.”

“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said in a statement. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.”

Read the entire piece here.

Evangelicals and the January 6 insurrection

New York Times religion reporters Elizabeth Dias and Ruth Graham just published a piece on evangelicals and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday.

Here is a taste:

Lindsay French, 40, an evangelical Christian from Texas, flew to Washington after she had received what she called a “burning bush” sign from God to participate following her pastor urging congregants to “stop the steal.”

“We are fighting good versus evil, dark versus light,” she said, declaring that she was rising up like Queen Esther, the biblical heroine who saved her people from death.

“We are tired of being made out to be these horrible people,” she said, acknowledging there was some violence but insisting on the falsehood that Antifa was behind it.

And this:

Oren Orr, 31, an arborist from Robbinsville, N.C., where he goes to Santeetlah Baptist Church, rented a car to drive to Washington. He carried his American flag right up below the officers on the bleachers, and his wife had a Christian flag. Mr. Trump could be the last president to believe in Jesus, he said. (Mr. Biden speaks often about his lifelong Catholic faith, and unlike Mr. Trump, attends church services frequently.)

Mr. Orr said he brought a baton and a Taser to Washington but did not get them out. “I know the Lord has my back no matter what happens,” he said.

Are Lindsay French and Oren Orr representative of American evangelicals? No. Most white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 not because they liked him, but because Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden were pro-choice and posed a threat to religious liberty. Most of them are horrified by what happened at the U.S. Capitol last week, but few of them see any connection between their vote in 2016 and the events of January 6. At the same time, many also believe the Democrats stole the election. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of evangelicals embrace the views of people like Lance Wallnau, Eric Metaxas, Charlie Kirk, and the rest of the Liberty University Falkirk Center and court evangelical crowd.

Here is Dias and Graham again:

In a Facebook video shot in Washington on Monday night, Tennessee pastor Greg Locke referred to himself as part of the “black robe regiment,” a reference to American clergy who were active in the American Revolution. At a rally the next night, Mr. Locke preached to a crowd of Trump supporters in Freedom Plaza, predicting “not just a Great Awakening, but the greatest awakening that we have ever seen.”

There is a lot going on in this excerpt. We have written about Locke’s “black robe regiment” before. This reference to eighteenth-century patriotic clergy got traction during the Tea Party movement that emerged in the early Obama administration. It also draws upon QAnon conspiracy theories that predict a national and religious revival is coming to America.

Most evangelical pastors are not like Lindsay French’s pastor or Greg Locke. They do not preach politics from the pulpit (even though many of them voted Trump in 2016 and 2020), they do not encourage their congregations to “stop the steal,” and they do not invoke the Black Robe Brigade in their sermons. I have communicated with dozens and dozens of evangelical pastors over the last month or so. Most of them never mentioned Trump’s name (or Joe Biden’s name) in official church settings. (Nor did they condemn Trump or Biden). Most of them are striving to steer their divided congregations toward some form of Christian unity as they try to figure out how to respond to the power that Fox News (and now Newsmax and One America) and social media have over their congregations. They wonder if their congregations will come out of the COVID-19 pandemic in tact. Many of them are trying to educate their congregations about race. Whether you are sympathetic or not to the struggles that these pastors are facing, they are an important part of the larger story of evangelicals in the age of Trump.

The best histories of evangelicals in the Trump era will tell a complex and complicated narrative.

Roughly 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in both elections. History will show that they enabled this president. I stand by every word I wrote in Believe Me.

But history will also show that evangelical support for Trump took on different levels of commitment. Some followed him deeper into the abyss than others. It is important for future historians to capture this nuance and avoid the media’s efforts to paint evangelicals with broad brushes.