Jon Stewart: The real story of the Jan. 6 hearings is Republicans shifting towards DeSantis

Well … yes. As certain other people have noted.

But let’s be careful about overstating the shift towards DeSantis. I’ve been hyping every poll I can find that indicates movement away from Trump, but the one from Morning Consult yesterday still had him leading by … 31 points, more than double DeSantis’s take. There are rumors floating around that he’ll declare his 2024 candidacy within the next week too, which would give him the field to himself for the second half of this year. He could be a prohibitive favorite again before we know it.

I think there has been meaningful movement towards DeSantis among the conservative commentariat lately. But virtually all of the conservative commentariat was against Trump in 2016 too, and you know how that turned out.

Stewart’s right, though, that the reception to the January 6 hearings among righties would be different if they didn’t have an attractive alternative to Trump waiting in the wings. So long as he’s the only game in town, every excess must be tolerated. Now that DeSantis is on the scene, Republicans can sigh and say, “I’d really rather not have to deal with this drama anymore.” Language warning here:

The point about how he’s “lost his utility” is interesting too. Yesterday I wrote that Trump has a credential that would be the envy of every Republican president of the last 50 years: He nuked Roe. He delivered. Why wouldn’t GOP voters want to reward him for that with a third nomination?

The counterargument is that the end of Roe is the perfect moment to dispense with him. He got elected in 2016 promising to put conservative justices on the Court who would remake American law. He kept that promise. It’s his greatest achievement. (Well, second-greatest after Operation Warp Speed.) His mission was accomplished — which means he can now be retired. Bonnie Kristian:

[W]hile plenty of responses took the Dobbs news as proof of political life, others had something of a retrospective tone or even gave a grateful goodbye: “Thank you, Donald Trump. You had the courage to run in 2016. You got 3 SCOTUS picks. Roe is gone,” said Ned Ryun, chief executive of the right-wing activist group American Majority. A Washington Post columnist, Marc Thiessen, while lauding Mr. Trump as “our greatest pro-life president,” worth four years of chaos and unspecified “behavior after the 2020 election,” hoped outright that he “does not run again in 2024.”

The praise is effusive, yes. But legacies are the stuff of funerals, retirement parties and lifetime achievement awards. This is not the language one uses for a politician whose glories are ahead of him. It envisions him as a leader whose work is remembered fondly — but still remembered, not anticipated.

One Republican voter told Reuters that, as of six months ago, he estimated that three-quarters of the 150 or so donors with whom he interacts regularly backed Trump. Around two-thirds have now shifted to DeSantis. In fact, DeSantis’s campaign momentarily has more cash on hand ($110 million) than Trump’s Super PAC does ($100 million). It’s unclear how many rank-and-file GOPers are using the January 6 hearings as “permission” to shift to DeSantis but it may well be happening among the donor class.

Wait, though. Is that Glenn Youngkin’s music I hear?

Gov. Glenn Youngkin flew to New York last week to meet privately with GOP megadonors in Manhattan, a move that underscores recent hints that the Republican is considering a run for president in 2024…

The PAC that Youngkin pitched to donors in Manhattan is one of two political organizations he established this year — ostensibly to promote fellow Republicans running for office in Virginia and elsewhere, but with the fringe benefit of raising his national profile through cross-country travel.

While Virginia governors routinely set up PACs to help bankroll in-state races, and some have traveled out of state to raise money, Youngkin’s entities stand apart with their national objectives — feeding speculation about his own aspirations.

One Youngkin “insider” confirmed his interest in a presidential run to Time magazine. ““The rest of the potential field has a brash Trump style,” he said. “Republicans need a new Reagan. Donors, insiders and increasingly Republican primary voters are coming to this realization.” I … do not think voters are realizing that they need a new Reagan, although they might be realizing that they need a new Trump. And DeSantis is much better suited to play that role than Youngkin.

But as a genial business-class Republican with some culture-war chops by dint of his moves against masking and CRT in schools, Youngkin would be a strong general election candidate. There’s no universe in which he beats Trump or DeSantis in a primary — remember, Youngkin didn’t even have to face a true primary in Virginia — but as a potential running mate for DeSantis? He’d be rock solid. He’s young too, at just 55 years old, and looks even younger. Combined, he and DeSantis are 98. The same age as Joe Biden.

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