Tom Nichols Profile picture
Contributing Writer and proprietor of Peacefield newsletter at @TheAtlantic. Author. Curmudgeon. Cat guy. Democracy enthusiast, defender of experts.
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Sep 30, 2018 10 tweets 2 min read
You know, every so often I have to listen to a lot of bellyaching about coastal elitism, and the notion that 50 million of us in the BOS-WAS corridor are disconnected from real America. Often, I'm told not to criticize small-town Murica by people who've never lived there. /1 Conversely, I'm told by people who've never been in a town that breaks five digits that the megalopolis I live in is some kind of weird exception. This is logic-defying at best. /2
Sep 16, 2018 4 tweets 3 min read
I'm not making the argument that committing a crime is right, I'm worried that high school will now be the disqualification for everything else later on. With that said, @Susan_Hennessey and others are making me think harder about the SCOTUS angle. /1 @Susan_Hennessey Because I'm also swayed by @asymmetricinfo's argument that this is why we seal juvenile records. (I totally reject any equivalence between one night at 17 and accusations against Clarence Thomas as an adult pattern, but that's a different argument.) /2
Sep 15, 2018 4 tweets 1 min read
I think one reason people are focusing on the "65 women" letter is so that they don't have to dwell on the fact that this is a last-minute accusation about high school from someone who didn't want to go forward with it, and that there's no other evidence to go on. /1 This is now a second-order level of accusation, in effect saying "he knew it was true so he had all these women lined up for the moment it came out." That's some pretty 4D chess right there.

Better explanation: all nominees have a war room that coordinates stuff. /2
Sep 12, 2018 4 tweets 2 min read
This is now a "you're not agreeing with me enough in the way I want" arguments, and it's non-falsifiable. If the GOP majority works with a Dem president to get deficits down, they love deficits. If they run deficits, they love deficits. Well, okay. /1 My point is that under Trump they're no longer even *nominally* opposed to deficits, and that *is* new. Yes, I get it @JoshuaMound, politics is full of hypocrites who hate any spending but the spending they like. Duh. /2
Sep 9, 2018 4 tweets 1 min read
While I think the anonymous writer should resign and come forward, I think a lot of people are being way too casual about this. It's like telling generals and admirals to throw their stars on the President's desk (like, during Vietnam) and just walk out. It's not that easy. /1 If you really believe the president is nuts, and that whoever replaces you will be worse, you might well feel the need to send up a flare for help while deciding to stay in place, not least to protect others you work with or to stop things you think would be catastrophic. /2
Sep 8, 2018 10 tweets 2 min read
Your Friday Tweetstorm (rebooted).
Trumpers are mounting a lot of desperate defenses of the week’s bad news, with lots of shouting at the Never Trumpers (because we don’t matter) and anxiety about who wil be left on “the day after."
This is because they know we’re right. /1 There’s no more question about “who will be proved right.” The Never Trumpers were right, and our worst fears are playing out right now. Yes, the GOP got its judges. And no, the economy hasn’t collapsed. (yet). The rest is happening as we speak. /2
Sep 5, 2018 5 tweets 1 min read
If the author of the NYT had used his/her/their name, all we'd be talking about is who they are, where they grew up, their entire career resume, who else they ever worked for, and where they are now.
The message of the oped itself would be completely lost. /1 We'd be having endless debates among people who'd be on TV by tonight yelling "I knew X and he/she is the finest person I know!" and "I know X and he/she was a jerk when we worked together!" and long human-interest in X's long road to GOP dissidence and blah blah blah. /2
Aug 25, 2018 5 tweets 1 min read
Looking back and realizing how many of my contacts in right-wing world on social media and in real life were trying to sell me the WH "echo chamber conspiracy" idea about the Obama alums setting up an outside "echo chamber" war room. This is worth noting in one important way. /1 This is important not because of me (because, for all my joking with you, I'm no one particularly special) but because it says this wasn't just an internal memo. It was meant to be a template to be used by supporters of the White House in attacking any criticism - or critics. /2
Aug 25, 2018 5 tweets 1 min read
The comments I'm getting about whether Congressmen are underpaid are why I was glad to leave politics behind a long time ago, and why two of the three politicians I worked for eventually quit politics in disgust after successful runs as popular and securely elected officials. /1 One was a mayor who got fed up, and took a judgeship. Another was a state legislator who rose high in the State House, but mostly got phone calls about bees in people's yards and why everything sucked and nothing was free enough. (Both Democrats.) The third died in office. /2
Aug 19, 2018 5 tweets 2 min read
So now I have an email (unfortunately, to a USG email account) from @markoneillpi making threats and challenging me to a fight.
Mark: if you're who you say you are, you might consider that you should get a grip on yourself.
I have a message for you and others here. /1 You could well be a veteran. But to me, you're one of hundreds of unverified Twitter users who pile into my TL regularly claiming to be decorated veterans, who then try to silence any criticism of things they don't like by invoking that status. Some are real; most are frauds. /2
Aug 18, 2018 4 tweets 3 min read
@PhilippeReines @AriMelber I think one of the best things that's happened since Trump became president - and there's not much to celebrate - has been the diminution of Steve Bannon. Once considered the Prince of Darkness with immense power, he's been reduced to half-assed self-promotion in Europe. /1 @PhilippeReines @AriMelber I was doing book events in Italy while Bannon was there, and I think a C-list guy like me got better press :)

That's as it should be. Bannon's a resentful crank with half-baked ideas mostly brewed out of a life of being rich but still not accepted by people he claims to hate. /2
Aug 8, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
To say anything even mildly critical of Rachel Maddow is to invite a bunch of pissy tweets from her fan base. That's part of the problem with her show: it generates devotion that is as celeb-driven and irrational as the right-wingers those same viewers can't stand. /1 Leaving aside Fox (for good reason), if you compare Hayes, Maddow, Lemon, Cuomo, and Cooper, there is one difference with Maddow. She treats news as if everything is a sudden burst of deeply hidden knowledge. It's a way to hook the viewer on drama. And *this is a problem*. /2
Aug 7, 2018 8 tweets 2 min read
Yet another article that gets PME wrong and is filled with outdated stereotypes. I don't speak for NWC and can't speak for what goes on at MCU but "new concepts for joint warfare and competent staff officers and commanders to lead the force" is not PME, nor should it be. /1 The central goal of PME should be, as Stansfield Turner warned 45 years ago, to ensure that military officers can hold their own against well-educated civilians in the national security arena and thus not lose control of their own profession. /2
Aug 7, 2018 5 tweets 1 min read
Gaslighting, part Zillion. This time, it's "What's the big deal, Trump admitted a long time ago that Don Jr took the meeting for oppo." (Today's WashEx is the foundation for this one, I guess.)
But no, he didn't. /1 What he said was: Anyone would have taken that meeting. What followed, for months, was a series of denials and obfuscations. This time, the President directly said - with no wiggle room - that his son actually took the meeting, and took it to get dirt on Clinton. /2
Aug 3, 2018 5 tweets 2 min read
"Clinton sought info from Russia through cutouts" is the new contortion to try to get the Trump family off the hook for dealing with Russia.
The people pushing it know it's wrong, but in case we need a reminder, here's a couple of points. /1 First, using an experienced spy from an *allied* country as a contractor to root around for dirt is ugly, but not off the charts. For one thing, the info gets vetted into a report, with caveats about reliability (as Steele did). /2
Aug 3, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
Watching Steve Moore on @donlemon tonight was a reminder that Trump loyalists are not interested in debate and do not make good faith arguments. They just blast disinformation out as fast as possible. There's a reason for this (besides basic Trumpy-ness). /1 Conservatives have long felt that their views were shut out of the mainstream media. (Mostly, they were, until Fox arrived.) It's that feeling - and I remember it too, and still feel it at times - of being a minority in a cultural landscape controlled by liberals. /2
Jul 31, 2018 16 tweets 3 min read
Okay, since the post-FISA Russia gaslighting has begun, let's sum up why the Trumper arguments about "no collusion" and "no crime" and all that crap are not only wrong, but morally deficient. Yes, including the Fusion and Steele issue. /1 First, the "dossier." A GOP operative hires a dirt-gathering oppo firm, backs out, and that assignment gets taken over by a firm working for the Dems. They are paying a company whose job it is to get dirt to go get dirt. This firm - duh - has foreign contractors like Steele. /2
Jul 27, 2018 4 tweets 1 min read
There’s so much wrong with this piece that I don’t know where to begin, but I’ll note that it recommends a “new” approach to PME that is actually what PME was doing 20 years ago, and failed, and had to be changed to what it is now. This is just going backward /1 Worse, it assumes the job of a war college is to produce staff officers (largely a training issue) and not to produce officers who can hold their own in a staff environment that includes highly educated civilians. /2
Jul 25, 2018 15 tweets 3 min read
So, I had an interesting run-in with some Trumpers today, and it's story worth telling. (Mute now if you're not into story time.) I was part of a panel at Harvard talking about the Helsinki summit. Afterwards, two middle-aged women had some, er, questions. /1 During the talk, I had said (in response to a question) that Helsinki was not going to move the needle on Trump's base support, not least because the Trump base is willfully ignorant and refuses to hear anything they don't like about the summit or about Russia at all. /2
Jul 22, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
Just had an interesting convo with a friend who lurks here. One thing I'm taking away from the Haberman thing is that Twitter is now a healthier place if we just instantly block people who are going out of their way to be rude. /1 I don't mean trolling; I don't mean snark or disagreement. I mean the people who think they have a right a right to fire off any venting comment at any time, and then not be kicked out for doing it. I think a lot of us have been far too patient with these anger junkies. /2
Jul 20, 2018 8 tweets 2 min read
Well, I don't mind the press interviewing Trump supporters. They're Americans who vote, too. What I mind is the idea that I'm supposed to understand them and wrap my head around their problems. /1 I have plenty of conversations with people who voted for Trump out of desperation. I get that. But two years in, I think the "angry Trump voter" thing is a shtick, it's a dodge. It's an act - and they know it. Rewarding them with more attention is pointless. /2