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OUR TRADITIONAL WIDE WORLD OF NEWS FRIDAY RANKINGS
As always, from most to least, best to worst – and, please, no wagering.
Best Week in Washington
1. President Trump
2. Speaker Pelosi
3. Steve Mnuchin
4. Joe Biden
5. Brad Parscale
My take: No resting on laurels. Up next: Trump needs a North American or China trade deal; Pelosi needs to get recessing Democrats to talk about jobs and health care; Mnuchin needs a China trade deal; Biden needs to survive his next debate; Parscale needs GDP to be closer to 3% than 2% and his boss to talk about the economy.
Worst Week in Washington
1. Bob Mueller
2. Pro-impeachment Democrats
3. Bob Mueller
4. Fiscal hawks
5. The American people
My take: Either Mueller himself, or someone in his personal or professional life, should not have allowed those hearings to take place. More importantly, Mueller failed in what should have been one of his main goals: clarifying for Congress, the American people, and history what the president and his allies did. That failure is more significant than his halting testimony.
Trump’s Biggest Wins of the Week
1. Mueller’s failure to ignite impeachment
2. Suffering little with his base despite making a deficit-busting deal w Pelosi
3. Keeping a Big Casino market depressing event from occurring with said deal
4. Getting his Pentagon chief in place
5. Seeing Democrats and the media remain in no-man’s land – obsessed with impeachment but not doing anything about it (with apologies to Mark Twain – or to Charles Dudley Warren)
My take: Governing is messy; Trump makes it far messier. But he continues to move so fast that the opposition is having trouble getting a bead on him, which will matter even more in 2020 than it does now.
Pelosi’s Biggest Wins of the Week
1. Finessed her caucus to put impeachment on a slow-track (so slow it almost certainly won’t reach the station before the Iowa caucus deadline)
2. Negotiated mountains of federal spending for Democrats’ domestic priorities
3. Squad feud? What Squad feud??
4. Reasserted her place as the second-most dominant figure in the Beltway
5. New shadow money group formed to help her keep the majority
My take: If Democrats can work their way towards a presidential nominee who has a strong chance to win, Pelosi will be relieved to give up her colossal role as the leader, face, and chief strategist of her party.
Greatest Source of Joe Biden’s Frontrunner Status
1. Name ID
2. Perceived electability
3. Goodwill among Democratic Party constituent elements
4. Weakness of field
5. National security credentials
My take: Old Gang of 500 conventional wisdom: too old and out of time to be the Democratic nominee. New Gang of 500 conventional wisdom: our thinking is ruled by polling because, as smart as we are, we still think polls are predictions about the future rather than snapshots of the present.
Most Likely to Go After Biden in Next Week’s Debate
1. Bill de Blasio
2. Cory Booker
3. Kirsten Gillibrand
4. Kamala Harris
5. Tulsi Gabbard
My take: All the latest poll data (see below) suggests that no matter what the CNN moderators ask, the answer for most of Biden’s rivals will be to remind the voters of the Delawarean’s past.
Most Opposition Research on Kamala Harris
1. America Rising
2. Republican National Committee
3. Joe Biden
4. Kamala Harris
5. Probably not Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or Pete Buttigieg
My take: Current Gang of 500 back-up favorite potentially vulnerable to new incoming based on extensive scouring of her past record by those determined to halt her rise.
Firmest Belief They Are Running US Foreign Policy
1. Donald Trump
1. Mike Pence
1. John Bolton
1. Mike Pompeo
1. Jared Kushner
My take: This is either a train wreck waiting to happen or a brilliant division of labor.
Greatest Claim to Actually Be Running US Foreign Policy
1. Donald Trump
2. John Bolton
3. Mike Pence
3. Mike Pompeo
3. Jared Kushner
My take: The decisions that matter for history are, for now, being made at the top.
Greatest Claim to Actually Be Running US Economic Policy
1. Larry Kudlow
2. Steve Mnuchin
3. Mick Mulvaney
4. Donald Trump
5. Russell Vought
My take: Impossible to really say, but don’t discount Mulvaney + Vought.
Greatest Desire to “Investigate the Investigators” in the Russia Probe
1. Kim Strassel
2. Donald Trump
3. Bill Barr
4. Sean Hannity
5. Devin Nunes
My take: The real answer is Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and his upcoming report is potentially a sleeping giant for all sorts of people and things.
Most Sick of Trump’s Antics
547. Sean Hannity
768. Kevin McCarthy
My take: None needed.
In other news:
Happening Friday: 2nd quarter GDP figures at 830am ET and Pelosi/AOC confab.
Essential reading: this New York Times op ed piece by Representative Ilhan Omar about her life experience, her view of what President Trump said about her, the chant, and the stakes in 2020.
My take: In a sane, rational nation of grace, Donald Trump would read this piece, cry a bit, ask his assistant to get Omar on the telephone, and tell her how moved he was by what she wrote, despite their differences.
Fox News poll shows Biden with a big lead over Democratic field.
My take: For all the hype in some quarters about a Big 5 competing for the nomination (See, “News, Wide World of”), it is right now a Big 4, or really, until Sanders, Warren, or Harris steps it up (or win Iowa), a Big 1 comprised of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
Mueller aide feels need to defend him.
My take: Read the rare blind quotes buried deep in a Washington Post story from “one person familiar with the case,” reflecting just how poorly Mueller fared, how determined his loyalists are to rehab him a bit (probably too late for that), and how aware his loyalists are about just how poorly he fared.
Mueller Ratings Meh
My take: 13 million viewer total across roadblocked network coverage would have been even lower if people knew how meh the testimony was going to be.
Senate Intelligence Committee report details widespread 2016 Russian interference.
My take: If Chuck Schumer can’t make Mitch McConnell pay a political price for blocking efforts to shore up the election system for 2020, it reflects more poorly on the American people than on Schumer.
Top sports story: Red Sox blast Yanks 19-3 in record-setting effort
Top business story: Juul co-founder defends e-cigarette start-up in congressional hearing over its alleged role in teen vaping ‘epidemic’
Top entertainment story: Genting and Fox Settle Malaysian Theme Park Battle
In advance of climate change talk in Iowa, Kirsten Gillibrand releases plan to move U.S. to completely ‘clean energy’ in a decade.
Senators target insulin price rise with bipartisan proposal.
2020 poll: SC Democrats give Joe Biden strong lead.
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