Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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The List

According to Wikipedia, “”Nixon’s Enemies List” is the informal name of what started as a list of Nixon’s major political opponents… The official purpose, as described by the White House Counsel’s Office, was to ‘screw’ Nixon’s political enemies, by means of tax audits from the Internal Revenue Service, and by manipulating ‘grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.’”

Here’s the list:

1. Arnold Picker
2. Alexander E. Barkan
3. Edwin Guthman
4. Maxwell Dane
5. Charles Dyson
6. Howard Stein
7. Allard Lowenstein
8. Morton Halperin
9. Leonard Woodcock
10. S. Sterling Munro, Jr.
11. Bernard T. Feld
12. Sidney Davidoff
13. John Conyers
14. Samuel M. Lambert
15. Stewart Rawlings Mott
16. Ron Dellums
17. Daniel Schorr
18. S. Harrison Dogole
19. Paul Newman
20. Mary McGrory

(Test your cultural literacy by identifying all twenty without the use of Google or Bing.)

(Yes, I’m proud that my father outranked Paul Newman.)

In honor of Anthony Scaramucci’s newly minted feud with the president, here is the current, semi-official “Trump’s Enemies List.” (Subject to change by noon.)

1. Anthony Scaramucci
2. Jeff Zucker
3. Barack Obama
4. Jerry Nadler
5. Robert Mueller
6. Rosie O’Donnell
7. Tony Schwartz
8. Adam Schiff
9. John McCain (RIP and/but still and forever on the list)
10. John Brennan
11. Bill de Blasio
12. George Conway
13. Michael Avenatti
14. Gloria Allred
15. Peter Strzok
16. Paul Ryan
17. Michelle Obama
18. George W. Bush
19. Mike Bloomberg
20. Seth Meyers

It is hard to make this list, because Donald Trump is both endlessly transactional and, in his own way, forgiving.

A good way to make the list is to have a negative trait that Trump shares and, thus, detests. Another good way to make the list is to demonstrate that you are not intimidated by Trump. Yet another: go on TV and say accurate, negative things about Trump. Finally, you can make the list if you simultaneously project disdain for Trump and make it clear you see what the emperor is wearing.

Not on Trump’s list but would be if he were paying closer attention: Gavin Newsom, Nancy Pelosi, Gary Cohn, the entire political and White House reporting teams of the New York Times, every general who served in the administration, and two people who currently work in the West Wing.

Although my sources have high confidence in the authenticity of this list, email me your additions, corrections, and amplifications. If the material warrants, I will publish an updated version tomorrow.

In other news:

Trump Administration Backs Changes in Rules on Endangered Species and Green Cards

My take: These are important policy moves that sharpen the differences between the two parties and remind everyone about the stakes in the presidential election. Liberal headline writers implicitly cast these steps as bad policy and bad for Trump’s re-election chances. Team Trump does not agree with either part of that analysis, and takes comfort in the press’ coverage, which it considers out of touch. Vegas odds makers now have that wager at even money.

25% Tariff Man

The Wall Street Journal looks at the raised US tariffs on products from China through the eyes of one American company.

My take: With economic forecasts for the US trending more bearish for 2020 and no trade war off-ramp apparent for Trump right now, this feature story is the single most important piece of content you can consume today if you want to anticipate the environment in which the president will run for re-election. A weakened economy will obviously make four more years less likely, but the corollary is of greater importance: no president in more than one hundred years has ever lost re-election with a strong economy. Getting out of his China pickle is both vital and difficult for Trump. We have not seen this movie before, so we don’t know how it ends.

Harris for the Hawkeye People

Both the Wall Street Journal and Politico look at Kamala Harris’ Iowa bid.

Quoted in Wall Street Journal:

“I can feel the momentum,” Ms. Harris said in the interview. “I really feel like the people of Iowa have been very interested and responsive.”

Quoted in Politico re overtaking Biden, Warren, and Sanders:

“There is a piece of it that is literally about name recognition,” Harris said. She talked about building an Iowa foundation for her campaign by “laying layers.”

“I’m happy with where we are,” she said. “I don’t want to be popping early.”

My take: The old mantra is still true about how to win Iowa. Organize, organize, organize and get hot at the end. Surely the Harris campaign would be happy to beat expectations in Iowa, knowing that winning outright will be tough. Harris can get hot at the end, to be sure, but it is an open question if she will organize enough to be in a position to do well enough to beat expectations, let alone win.

The reality for Harris, though, is that beating expectations in Iowa won’t be enough if all she does in New Hampshire is the same thing. Can she be the Democratic nominee if she simply beats expectations (without an outright win) in both of the first two states? History suggests no. But given the composition of the field and the fact that we are in a post-historical time, the answer could be “yes” (but I doubt it).

What Comes Out of Joe Biden’s Mouth

There is a long look at Joe Biden and gaffes in the New York Times that is the kind of process story that hard-working real voters certainly do not have time to read. But it is important you know that the Times is fully supportive of the Biden-gaffes-are-a-national-crisis meme.

My take: I will write it again – Biden’s lack of a future-oriented theory of the case, his overreliance on the electability argument, and his temper are far graver threats to his candidacy than gaffes, which, his staff correctly points out, are largely priced into the stock by voters.

Harry Reid Wants to Get Rid of the Senate Filibuster

New York Times op-ed calls for change Silver Stater had resisted.

My take: This is NOT a process story, although it has all the appearances of being one. The former Democratic Senate leader is now on the cutting edge of a change in the party’s center of gravity that is at once surprising and inevitable. If a Democrat beats Trump, this debate will be among the first and most important that occurs after Election Day. But despite the efforts of Reid and others, this discussion will likely remain an inside game, not a voting issue next November.

Essential Reading

James Stewart’s unique and compelling New York Times account of his recent interactions with Jeffrey Epstein.

My take: This isn’t the most remarkable facet of this extraordinary piece, but it caught my eye. Stewart takes the position that if a source who speaks on background dies, a journalist can unilaterally put everything on the record. Is that really Times policy?

Top sports story: NCAA amends ‘Rich Paul Rule’ amid blowback

Top business story: Taco Bell-parent Yum Brands’ CEO Greg Creed to retire, to be replaced by COO David Gibbs

Top entertainment story: Apple Releases ‘The Morning Show’ Teaser

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One thought on “Tuesday, August 13, 2019

  1. Some additions to “The Trump List” – the Squad, Elijah Cummings, Crooked Hillary, and Micahel Wolff. It is getting to be a big list.


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