What happened to Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin senator running for re-election?

Charlie Sykes, editor-at-large at The Bulwark, has a few theories. Sykes tells New Abnormal co-host Molly Jong-Fast that he used to like Johnson, even thought he was one of the smartest guys, but then something Trumpy happened.

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“There was a while when I tried to come up with various theories about it, because I was trying to think, how did he get from this normal sort of Wall Street Journal-reading businessman from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to RonAnon [Ron + QAnon]? What drew him down those rabbit holes?” he says. “He turned out to model himself on Joseph McCarthy, our other legendary senator from Wisconsin.”

So, Molly wants to know, what broke his brain? Sykes has a theory: “He’s fallen in with a bad crowd… and apparently also lost his mind.”

Wisconsin politics, in general, have also changed, says Sykes.

“The establishment here decided it was gonna go along and appease the Trumpists. They would throw a little bit of red meat. They figured that they could grow the crocodile in the bathtub and it wouldn’t get big and come out and eat them,” he explains. And well, “now they have Ron Johnson, one of the craziest United States senators.”

Also on the podcast is PBS NewsHour special correspondent and documentary filmmaker Simon Ostrovsky, who shares what he thinks is President Biden’s biggest weakness in negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russians know that the Americans are never gonna put any skin in the game. They’re not even gonna threaten to put skin in the game,” he says.

Speaking of Putin, co-host Andy Levy is sure Fox News talking heads and right-wing Twitter warriors like Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro are turned on by the Russian autocrat.

“This segment of conservatism that craves this strong daddy figure,” he jokes to Molly.

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