America This Week: August 1-7, 2022
Landmark antitrust trial begins, the "cockroach" of tax breaks avoids death again, ultimate culture-war madness, arms sales to Saudi/UAE pals, plus Three Finance Headlines, chorizo mischief and more
The madness has begun early.
Public campaigning for the presidency and media coverage of same has rarely taken place in earnest before midterm elections. Veteran campaign journalists routinely took long vacations in Wifi-scarce areas (mountain ranges, distant island chains, backyard dungeons) in the fall season two years before a presidential vote, and candidate television ads almost never appeared until Election Day was at least 18 months out. In the 2012 election cycle, the first spot didn’t run until July 5, 2011, when then-Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty aired a TV ad in Iowa called “Pawlenty won” (actually, “Pawlenty dropped out” roughly a month later). The period before kickoff of campaign hostilities was known as the “invisible primary,” and voters were encouraged, as the New York Times once put it, to “enjoy the lull.”
There’s no more lull. In nearly unprecedented chaos — the most recent cycle that compares is 1968, when then-president Lyndon Johnson pulled out after a poor New Hampshire showing, leaving slates wide open in both parties — neither major party has a clue who will be its nominee in 2024. This has resulted in a flood of presidential campaign stories appearing at least 5-6 months earlier than usual, as politicians jockey for positioning with voters and donors alike. With putative frontrunner Donald Trump potentially facing indictment, trial-balloon articles hyping prospects of Republicans like Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, Tim Scott (two Scotts!), Liz Cheney, Larry Hogan, and Josh Hawley ran in June and July already. On the blue side, rumors that Joe Biden will not run again are pouring out of Washington and insiders almost daily propose replacements to Washington reporters, creating a list of profiles that already includes Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom (who lapped Pawlenty, already doing a TV ad buy in Florida), Gretchen Whitmer, Gina Raimondo, Phil Murphy, J.B. Pritzker, Andy Beshear, Sherrod Brown, Cory Booker, Stacey Abrams, Mitch Landrieu, Ro Khanna, and others. There will be no vacations for campaign reporters this fall. As one magazine writer put it this week, “It’s on.”
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