Monday, August 12, 2019

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The 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Thumbnails

Joe Biden

Best news: It will be very difficult to pierce his poll-driven edge on “electability” – and Democratic voters want electability so very much.

Worst news: His focus on electability makes it even more unlikely that for the first time in his long political career he will develop a vivid, accessible theory of the case about what Joe Biden’s America and American economy would look like.

Elizabeth Warren

Best news: Continues her unbroken months-long run of positive coverage focusing on her vivid, accessible theory of the case about what Elizabeth Warren’s America and American economy would look like, on her bevy of policy proposals, on her strong early-state organization, and on her rising poll numbers.

Worst news: Until and unless Sanders’ floor of support drops lower or he leaves the race, she has a mathematical problem in overtaking Biden; until and unless Harris’ floor of support drops lower or she leaves the race, she has a mathematical problem in overtaking Biden.

Kamala Harris

Best news: As she increasingly finds her candidate rhythm, appears more like the Goldilocks candidate to the Gang of 500 and many voters looking to combine charm, steel, ideological flexibility, and electability.

Worst news: Still has a lot of boxes to check, with over-scheduling for campaign and fundraising travel threatening to leave her a tired and error-prone candidate.

Bernie Sanders

Best news: Underestimated by a poll-obsessed pundit class and political press corps, who largely don’t realize he is for the first time this cycle thinking about how to develop a second act.

Worst news: Will have a hard time generating a second act.

Pete Buttigieg

Best news: Offering something different on many levels than the other members of the Big 5, meaning his eerily consistent campaign trail performance can allow him to find new converts while working the retail side of the house.

Worst news: It is hard to imagine his getting better press coverage than he already got, and he still faces a lot of wholesale challenges to build support outside his current demographic backing.

Amy Klobuchar

Best news: Strong Wing Ding speech and the absence of a non-coastal candidate in the Big 4 suggests she has a window to get some Iowa traction.

Worst news: Still challenging to differentiate herself enough from the frontrunners to eat into their support.

Cory Booker

Best news:  The media is practically begging voters to get him into a higher tier.

Worst news: The same limitations that held him back before the current meta boomlet are still in existence.

Michael Bennet

Best news: Strong recent performances position him to theoretically be one of the main beneficiaries if Biden collapses politically.

Worst news: Struggling to simultaneously be himself and cadge the attention necessary to draw media coverage and get into the next debate round.

Andrew Yang

Best news: Finally getting some credit for his unique ideas and bio.

Worst news: The winning aspects of his style and presentation make clearing the electability and commander-in-chief hurdles a lot harder.

Beto O’Rourke

Best news: The tragedy of El Paso gets him off the trail and a fresh hearing from the media.

Worst news: His failure to develop a tangible rationale for his candidacy continues unabated.

Steve Bullock

Best news: Consistently demonstrating confidence that Montana voters and Iowa voters care about the same things.

Worst news: The disadvantages caused by his ridiculously late state are never going away.

Julian Castro

Best news: Earnest, wise-beyond-his-years, and consistent presentation continues to wear well.

Worst news: No sign of a breakthrough after stringing together two strong debates.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Best news: Continues to aggressively search for a way to move up.

Worst news: Absence of tangible signs of progress hurts her deeply with the media filter.

John Hickenlooper

Best news: Improved comfort on his stump speech and media interviews.

Worst news: Hasn’t found a compelling way to sell his resume.

Bill de Blasio

Best news: Fearless.

Worst news: Mocking by home state press corps and elites infects everything he tries.

Tulsi Gabbard

Best news: Clearly being treated and looked at differently after debate performance.

Worst news: Any real success will be met with additional scrutiny of her controversial foreign policy record.

John Delaney

Best news:  Has been somewhat normalized as a candidate nationally, while still reaping the benefits of his early start.

Worst news:  Not normalized enough to have changed the paradigm.

Jay Inslee

Best news:  Making as strong a bid as anyone to fill the “governor” slot.

Worst news:  Emphasis on climate change is still viewed by many as a gimmick rather than a crusade.

Marianne Williamson

Best news: Finally has demonstrated to many the applicability of her life’s work to being president.

Worst news: Her style makes moving from the fringe to the main event very tough.

Seth Moulton

Best news: Obstacles have not dampened his fighting spirit.

Worst news: Just too many obstacles.

Tim Ryan

Best news: Dogged and confident

Worst news: Debates gave him a great shot to be part of the discussion – and has little to show for it.

Tom Steyer

Best news:  His bank account.

Worst news:  Still shut out of the narrative.

Joe Sestak

Best news:  Strong campaign skills for a person just entering the fray.

Worst news: Difficult to discern a 360-degree rationale.

Epstein News

Danny Cevallos: “The safest bet is that Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide.”

“The Bureau of Justice Statistics report noted that suicide rates are even higher for jail detainees who had not yet been tried, like Epstein. Such detainees are seven times more likely to kill themselves than convicted prisoners serving their terms in prison.”

“According to news reports, Epstein was not on suicide watch when he died, but even if he had been the outcome might have been the same. A study by the U.S. Marshal Service found that about 8% of suicides in correctional facilities occurred even though an inmate was on suicide watch. According to the report, the vast majority of suicides (more than 90%) are hangings, with the second most common being drug overdoses.”

New York Times: “On Sunday, the Bureau of Prisons offered no explanation for why Mr. Epstein was left alone and not checked on.”

WashPost: “The Federal Bureau of Prisons did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment.”

“Corrections officers had not checked in on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before he was found hanging in his cell Saturday, a person familiar with the matter said, just one in a series of missteps in the hours leading up to his death.”

“Officers should have been checking on Epstein, who was being held in a special housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, every 30 minutes, and, under normal circumstances, he also should have had a cellmate, according to the person familiar with the matter and union officials representing facility employees.”

“But a person who had been assigned to share a cell with Epstein was transferred on Friday, and — for reasons that investigators are still exploring — he did not receive a new cellmate, the person familiar with the matter said Sunday night. That left Epstein, who had previously been placed on suicide watch, alone and unmonitored — at least in the hours before his death — by even those officers assigned to guard him.”

WSJ: “Attorney General William Barr is taking a hands-on role in the investigation, asking Deputy FBI Director David Bowdich to brief the deputy attorney general every three hours.”

WSJ ed board: “The death by apparent suicide of the politically connected financier couldn’t have been scripted better to undermine trust in law enforcement and the prison and legal systems.”

WashPost: “According to people familiar with the investigation, authorities have had trouble locating Maxwell, who is believed to be living abroad.”

New York Times: “Through his spokesman, Mr. Wexner declined repeated interview requests and to answer questions as to why he did not contact the authorities about the claims that Mr. Epstein had misappropriated his money.”

In other news:

Joe Biden New York Times op-ed: “Banning Assault Weapons Works”

Robert Samuelson: “Most economists aren’t yet predicting a recession, but they’re drifting in that direction.”

Hong Kong cancels flights as protesters swarm.

Top sports story: Orioles’ upset of Astros one of biggest in 15 years

Top business story: Automakers trim production as market weakens – but hope to avoid wholesale cuts of a decade ago

Top entertainment story: Box Office: ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Beats ‘Scary Stories,’ ‘The Kitchen’ Gets Burned

Big Four


Warren wows in Iowa as candidates’ sprint to caucuses begins.

At Iowa State Fair, Republican Bill Weld touts bid to unseat Trump.


Democrats have rolled out a virtual caucus for 2020. Here’s how it’s supposed to work.

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