Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. House Democrats are proceeding apace to impeach President Trump again. This strikes many Republicans as vengeful and pointless: He’s leaving office in seven days anyway. Democrats who huddled in fear for their lives in the U.S. Capitol last week counter that impeachment is absolutely necessary.
In truth, it’s difficult to know, in real-time, exactly what we’re looking at, or its ramifications. On this date in 1928, for example, RCA and General Electric placed a new gizmo -- the television set -- in several homes in the upstate New York town of Schenectady. The screens were tiny, the picture quality poor, the signal from WGY unsteady, and the pilot program being aired -- a drama named “The Queen’s Messenger” -- utterly forgettable.
Something cataclysmic had happened, as it turned out, although not everyone realized it. “Whether the present system can be brought to commercial practicability and public usefulness,” reported the New York Herald Tribune, “remains a question.”
Some said the same thing about the Internet. And though it’s tempting to poke fun at doubters and Luddites, the manner in which that medium has helped weaponize politics suggests that the second part of the equation -- its “public usefulness” -- also remains an open question.
With that, I’d point you to RCP’s front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. Today’s lineup includes Glenn Greenwald (Substack), Dahlia Lithwick (Slate), and Ed Rendell (The Hill). We also offer original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors, including the following:
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Abe Lincoln’s Warning About the Perils of Mob Rule. Tom Bevan and I consider Lincoln’s 1838 stand against mob violence and the lessons we ought to learn from it.
Republicans Must Step Up to Stop the Violence Trump Won’t. A.B. Stoddard warns that last week’s assault on the Capitol could pale in comparison to what’s ahead if GOP lawmakers don’t speak forcefully to the president’s supporters.
Trump’s Packing His Bags, But Partisan Media Is Here to Stay. J. Peder Zane argues that America’s major news outlets have abandoned their historic commitment to open inquiry and fairness.
Will a Biden Presidency Reflect His Scranton Roots? Charles F. McElwee examines the town that shaped our next president, and the transitions it has faced since he left nearly 70 years ago.
Biden’s Hidden Mandate. At RealClearPolicy, Richard Protzmann writes that the events of the past year, including election results down the ballot, are a call for moderation and bipartisanship.
Bitcoin -- and Where “Money” Is Headed. At RealClearMarkets, Reuven Brenner has this primer on the digital currency and how the block-chain technology behind it can help ensure accountability in a range of commercial activities.
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Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics