Monday, September 9, 2019

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Pelosi for the Opposition

Until there is a presumptive Democratic presidential nominee (March at the earliest, July at the latest), Speaker Nancy Pelosi is the single most influential person in the United States in determining if Donald Trump wins reelection.

The Democratic Party is very fortunate.  As I write in my forthcoming book, “How to Beat Trump,” about Pelosi, “She has publicly demonstrated many of the traits the party’s presidential nominee will need to take on Trump, exhibiting fearlessness, humor, dignity, and focus.”

Pelosi knows Americans need lower drug prices, a healthy economy, a new trade deal with our North American neighbors, gun safety, and a united front in dealing with our adversaries around the world.

She also believes that there is no greater public responsibility she has ever faced than doing everything in her power to get a Democrat elected president in 2020.

How she manages impeachment, lawsuits against the executive branch, spending bill decisions, the USMCA negotiations, and the legislative agenda will say more about Trump’s chances than anything the presidential candidates do in Iowa, New Hampshire, or anywhere else until at least February.

The Democrats who are most confident about beating Trump are those who think that the dynamics that allowed their party to wallop the Republicans in the 2018 House elections will lead inexorably to the first defeat of an occupant of the Oval Office in almost thirty years.

For Pelosi and many strategists, those dynamics start with winning suburban voters.

There is a reason you haven’t read or heard very much about who Pelosi and other congressional leaders favor for the presidential nomination, or whom they think would be the strongest general election candidate.

They want a nominee who can inspire the base, attract swing voters, raise well north of a billion dollars, stare down Donald Trump, and provide coattails in battleground Senate and House contests.

And they (and “they” includes Pelosi) have no better idea who that person is than you do.

So all they can do is create the best legisla-politico-comms environment possible for when Nominee-Presumptive X takes the stage.

With the House and Senate coming back this week, be prepared for a lot of discussion over the coming months in Wide World of News through the prism of one question.

The question is not “What does Nancy Pelosi want?”

The question that matters most in American politics from today through the determination of a presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is this:

“What is Nancy Pelosi going to do to get what she wants?”

My take: If the Milwaukee convention is hopelessly deadlocked, Pelosi becomes the nominee.

In other news:

**Trump MAGA rallies in Fayetteville, North Carolina at 7pm tonight, ahead of Tuesday’s Republican must-win in a special House election.
Here’s a great curtain-raiser for the event.

My take: The stream of consciousness on display could give us a window into what Trump is thinking about the Democratic field, China, impeachment, the economy, and a second-term agenda.  The key to getting maximum meta data from what the president says is being able to differentiate when he is talking about something because he is worried from when he is talking about something because he is confident. You’ve got to read the tells to win.

**Mark Sanford becomes the third Republican to challenge President Trump.

My take: If one of these rivals doesn’t catch on enough to do symbolic damage to Trump in an early state, these candidacies will in fact strengthen the incumbent’s hand, allowing him to take more amped-up victory laps on the nights of primaries and caucuses.

**Here’s a perfect distillation of what the mainstream press thinks of the state of the Biden candidacy, and here’s a perfect distillation of what the smartest people in politics think about the state of the Biden candidacy.

My take: Biden likes to say he is totally different than Trump, but there is one key way they are alike.  The press and their supporters can muse all they want about the candidates changing their ways just a tad to enhance their chances of winning. These are two experienced dogs who are not going to start flaunting any new tricks.  They are who they are.

**Looking for the seeds of Warren’s eventual potential problems? Read this paragraph embedded in a Washington Post piece about the Warren-Biden relationship:

“Warren did not directly answer the question, a tactic she continues to employ, saying the real solution is an economy where Americans are doing better.”

My take: Those who want to stop Warren from winning the nomination would be wise to get her to start answering questions on the details of her health care plan and a whole lot more. The irony is that the candidate known favorably for her specific plans is probably most vulnerable now over her lack of specificity on some key issues.

**Nearly essential reading:

Trump administration internal divisions on doing a deal with the Taliban. (Washington Post)

House Democrats still watching the calendar and dreaming of impeachment, with a newish idea floated: have the Judiciary Committee vote to impeach, but not send it the House floor. (New York Times)

China’s economic growth lower than advertised. (Wall Street Journal)

My takes: Trump’s desire to fulfill a campaign process to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan is running headlong into his desire to not be known as the president who lost Afghanistan. Pelosi is not going to let the Democrats do something the public is dead-set against. Trump still doesn’t have enough leverage over China to get the deal he wants.

Top sports story: Brady, Patriots will be unstoppable if Antonio Brown doesn’t stop them

Top business story: JP Morgan has created an index to track the effect of Trump’s tweets on financial markets: ‘Volfefe index’

Top entertainment story: Box Office: ‘It: Chapter Two’ Floats to No. 1 With $91 Million

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