Quick Takes: Is a GOP Purge Coming?

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* I’ve been writing about the coming battle of the oligarchs, which will pit McConnell and the Koch brothers against Bannon and the Mercer family in the 2018 midterms. VP Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, weighed in with his take recently.

In remarks at a Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Tuesday morning, Nick Ayers also warned that Republicans are “on track to get shellacked” in next year’s midterm elections if GOP lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities…

“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,” Ayers said, according to an audio recording of the remarks obtained by POLITICO.

One attendee later asked how the donors could “rally the congressional delegation that does support the president and vice president, and rally them and push them to change the current leadership in both the Senate and the House.”

“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this,” Ayers responded. “But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, number one. And number two, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”

He continued, “Because, look, if we’re going to be in the minority again we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority.”

All I can say is, “Wow!”

* I could do an entire Quick Takes on just the obnoxious and cringe-worthy things Trump said today in Puerto Rico. But Esme Cribb beat me to it.

On his way out of the White House on Tuesday, Trump incorrectly claimed that roads on Puerto Rico have been cleared and congratulated himself on doing what he dubiously claimed was “a great job.”

Then he called on residents of the hurricane-pummeled island — many of whom lack electricity, access to water and sewage treatment after a Category 4 storm hit nearly two weeks ago — to give the federal government a hand.

“We need their truck drivers,” Trump said. “Their drivers have to start driving trucks. We have to do that, so at a local level they have to give us more help.”…

When he landed on the island, Trump informed Puerto Ricans that the federal relief effort to rebuild their shattered infrastructure is coming out of government coffers.

“I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack, because we spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that’s fine,” Trump said.

He then compared Hurricane Maria to Katrina, which he called a “real catastrophe.”…

Then, during a tour of the devastation, he told survivors to “have a good time.”

* Leonard Pitts has had enough of “thoughts and prayers.” He points those who so sanctimoniously say that to the “good book” they are so fond of quoting.

“Thoughts and prayers” do not diminish the need for more concrete steps. Indeed it might be argued that the one requires the other. James, brother of Jesus, certainly thought so.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters,” he wrote, “if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

* This one simply gets a “Boom! Nail, meet hammer.”

* Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case about Wisconsin’s gerrymandered districts and Jeffrey Toobin relates a fascinating interchange. Apparently Justice Gorsuch has taken to dominating oral arguments and lecturing his colleagues. Today he opened a question with, “Maybe we can just for a second talk about the arcane matter of the Constitution,” as if that would be a novel idea to his fellow justices. After questioning where the Court is given the authority to revise state legislative lines, Justice Ginsburg apparently decided that it was time the young man learned a lesson.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is bent with age, can sometimes look disengaged or even sleepy during arguments, and she had that droopy look today as well. But, in this moment, she heard Gorsuch very clearly, and she didn’t even raise her head before offering a brisk and convincing dismissal. In her still Brooklyn-flecked drawl, she grumbled, “Where did one-person, one-vote come from?” There might have been an audible woo that echoed through the courtroom. (Ginsburg’s comment seemed to silence Gorsuch for the rest of the arguments.)

In one cutting remark, Ginsburg summed up how Gorsuch’s patronizing lecture omitted some of the Court’s most important precedents…

Perhaps Gorsuch will eventually learn that you don’t mess with Notorious RBG.

* Finally, here is Keith Urban performing at a vigil in Nashville last night for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.