It’s the dog days of summer. This’ll be a short one, and next week we take off to rest and recover. If you need more content, I encourage you to watch this subscriber-only event about autism we did recently with the brilliant Jill Escher. Or check out Olivia Reingold’s report from the GOP debate—“Knives Out for Vivek!” Or the roundtable we just put up on Honestly. Or Abigail Anthony’s piece about Jordan Peterson’s “war.” (We’ve had a great week.)
A confession: I’ve been feeling like these missives are getting a little angry and that I need to reclaim my joy. Which I plan to do in a pool with a glass of rosé and a simple delusion (that Arnold Schwarzenegger is the president now and forever). Come September, as my supreme leader says, I’ll be back.
→ Mugshots for all: Trump and the whole Georgia election interference crew got mugshots this week. It’s pretty jarring to see it: Trump booked at a jail in Atlanta. The Florida and Georgia indictments seem more legit than the others, and I’m pro-laws and not opposed to a former president being jailed per se, though it is very banana republic and depressing.
The fever dream of so many for so many years instantly became Trump’s campaign message Thursday night: “Never surrender,” he blasted out with the mugshot moments after it came online. And you know he practiced the scowl: persecuted yet defiant. With the mug in hand, he’s back on Twitter posting for the first time since 2021, when he was banned from the platform by the previous owners. Expect to see that scowl on t-shirts for a long time, first seriously, then ironically, then seriously again, then one day in 100 years by teenagers who have no idea the meme wars we fought.
→ Republican debates: Vivek Ramaswamy was the man to beat at the debates on Wednesday, with the seven other candidates aiming their best barbs his way and largely ignoring Ron DeSantis, whose main viral moment was a very uncomfortable smile. Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley had a fierce exchange about foreign policy (Nikki is obviously my pick of the Republicans, so I was cheering at the TV and throwing the cheese plate in the air during this, but for you it might be less stirring). Ramaswamy, who I sort of thought was moderate on things, came out pretty loud and proud as not exactly moderate on things, declaring for example “the climate change agenda is a hoax.” (I’m sure he’ll offer a longer explanation for critics like me on how he actually means certain policies are hoax-y, but his message is clear enough: he’s showing that he’s a bona fide right-winger.) But I did appreciate the debate prep videos he put out of himself shirtless and working out. If Vivek just repeated “I’m 38” over and over during the debate, I think he would’ve done just as well.
Trump was Voldemort, looming silently over all. Here’s Chris Christie, who earlier called Trump “a coward” for not joining the debate: “We have to dispense with the person who said that we need to suspend the Constitution to put forward his political career.” Meantime, while all that was happening in Milwaukee. . .
→ Trump on Tuck: Five minutes before the debate started, Tucker Carlson released an hour-long on-camera interview with Trump on Tuck’s new Twitter show, which by the next day had 228 million views. Trump owns his own social network—Truth Social—yet there he was on Twitter (sorry, X) instead, Truth just another abandoned Trump Steak (stealing this detail from Axios editor Dan Primack; I actually regularly forget Truth exists). While the not-Trump candidates discussed Ukraine and the economy and climate change, Trump discussed Jeffrey Epstein, Fox News, former attorney general Bill Barr, and January 6, of which he said: “There’s tremendous passion and there’s tremendous love.”
Earlier in the day, Trump vowed a massive new 10 percent tariff on all imports—“a universal baseline tariff,” which disrupts my neolib vision but I’m willing to listen. (Commenters: are you pro- or anti-tariff and why? Asking for. . . a friend who’s not sure.)