Monday, July 15, 2019


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Every Important DC Relationship Now Involves Nancy Pelosi

1. Pelosi and the President

Outrageous Trump tweets targeting The Squad bring the Speaker to their defense.

My take: Trump’s “racist and breathtakingly divisive” tweets broke his usual mode of doing things that are shocking but not surprising.

His Sunday 280-character bombs were both shocking and surprising.  In the short term, he has inexplicably given Pelosi a chance to unite her party and the Democratic House caucus against their (long-time) common enemy, and calm the intra-party battle that was raging right up until the moment Trump tapped his phone.

Although condemnation was quick and universal on the Democratic side (Hillary Clinton weighed in), there is no one else in America now who projects Pelosi’s moral and political authority to stand up to Donald Trump when he crosses a line.  

The media’s love affair with Pelosi is now as long-running as it is justified as it is (nearly) unanimous.  She will surely be unwavering in galvanizing her party, and much of the nation, against the president’s outrageous outburst.  She will be helped by the fact that many Republicans are privately disgusted.

So Team Pelosi’s project today (with the media rightfully joining in): getting Republicans to say what they think about the president’s words.

There is this: “Doug Heye, a Republican strategist, called Mr. Trump’s tweets about the Democratic House members racist but said that GOP lawmakers would find it hard to comment on them, given the president’s enormous popularity among Republicans.”

“’If you were a Republican member of Congress for 10 years and didn’t speak out on “birtherism,” are you going to speak out now?’ Mr. Heye said.” (WSJ)

I think, just this once, Mr. Heye will be wrong.  By tomorrow’s episode of Wide World of News, some Republicans will have almost certainly weighed in.

We have seen Trump take purposefully provocative steps many times. In this case, he seemed to be trying to stoke the tensions in the Democratic Party by highlighting the controversial Squad.  Instead, he has given Pelosi an opening to re-unite her full caucus.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), as quoted in the Washington Post:  “I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring everybody together — I think the president just did that for us. Nobody in our caucus is going to tolerate that kind of hatred.”


2. Pelosi and The Squad

Despite the president changing the storyline, there were 72 hours more of extraordinary weekend sniping between the Speaker and the progressive movement, exposing real fissures that are not likely to go away for long, despite Trump’s apparent error.

My take:  Republicans historically have claimed that the press hypes the disputes within their party but papers over divisions between Democrats. This is one time when even Rush Limbaugh can’t make that charge with a straight face. 

The “Pelosi vs The Squad” narrative was barreling full steam ahead down the media tracks, with no end in sight, with reasonable people warning/predicting that it could cost the Democrats the White House. 

The tensions are certainly making it much harder for the party to speak with one voice, and talk about matters such as, say, the president’s health care policies. 

Although Pelosi has never been beloved by portions of the activist left, it was striking to see the negative reaction the crowd at this weekend’s Netroots Nation delivered at the mere mention of her name.

Although this battle started out based on real disagreements about how to change America, it has now become highly personal, with insults and jibes shooting in both directions. 

The assumption in the current coverage is that Trump’s actions have healed the Democratic breach. There are, however, votes and hearings galore coming up that will bring the divisions back into play. For Pelosi, the key is the make the fights substantive (and subject to gentle-but-firm whip counts) and not personal.
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3. Pelosi and Bob Lighthizer

If you don’t think the fate of the new North American trade deal hangs in the balance, and if you don’t think big business is freaking out about it, you are not paying sufficient attention.

My take: Pelosi would like to solve this problem for the right reasons. Lighthizer would like to solve this problem for the right reasons. There is a lot more trust between them than exists between Pelosi and Trump.  It is going to take much more political will, creativity, and luck to solve this.

4. Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin

If you don’t think the fate of the U.S.’s fiscal reputation hangs in the balance over the debt ceiling limit, and if you don’t think big business is freaking out about it, you are not paying sufficient attention. 

My take: Pelosi would like to solve this problem for the right reasons. Mnuchin would like to solve this problem for the right reasons. There is a lot more trust between them than exists between Pelosi and Trump.  It is going to take much more political will, creativity, and luck to solve this.

5. Pelosi and the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates

The Speaker didn’t say this: “Donald Trump, you can see it in his face. He thinks the game is coming to him. You can see it in his face every day.”

My take: Michael Bennet said it.  But the Speaker is thinking the same thing, and she is concerned.  She has her hands full with 1 through 4 above (and more), so/and she can’t micro manage the nomination process. 

Although she is to the left of Bennet on some policy issues, she shares his concern that what is happening on immigration and health care in the presidential nomination process could give her country four more years of Donald Trump.  She knows that if she doesn’t do everything she can to possibly stop this from happening, that outcome will be a part of her legacy.  A part her grandchildren will ask her about until her last days on this earth. 


In Other News

Read these things:

Extraordinary lattice work in this Washington Post story about acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.  If you care about palace intrigue, this story will take your breath away. If you don’t care about palace intrigue, you just need to know that Mulvaney is using his powers to deregulate as fast as he possibly can.

My take: Too many people cooperated with this story for Trump’s liking. A lot of people will mention the piece to him. There is a chance that by week’s end, there will be some changes in how Mulvaney operates.

On the other hand, this Wall Street Journal story will only reinforce the president’s enthusiasm for his ambassador to Germany, the Honorable Richard Grenell.

My take: Most observers think being good on cable TV is the only way for an ally to win the president’s love.  However, having Twitter game and demanding change from European countries can also do the trick.

Will Joe Biden fight back in the next debate? Dan Balz explores that key question. 

My take: While the former VP ponders going on offense, watch for him to have to play more defense on issues such as trade and his national security record.

New Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll numbers show Biden and Sanders beating Trump now. 

My take: The election isn’t now.

China’s economic growth slows, potentially giving the Trump administration the leverage it finally needs to strike a trade deal.

My take: Trump has always needed an agreement by the State of the Union. Now Xi might also.

Big Four

Iowa

‘Stand up for what we believe in’: Only Pete Buttigieg gets standing ovation from Corn Feed audience.

New Hampshire

Biden campaigns as Obamacare’s top defender.


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