Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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This whole town is Groundhog Day, until it’s not, until something changes.
— Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy

Senator Murphy’s new adage is truer in the Age of Trump than it was before, and it was quite true before.

As Donald Trump, the first lady, and America observe the solemn anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, in the current burbling news cycle, what’s new is old and what’s old is new.

**The Republican House candidate in North Carolina narrowly won, showing the party strong in rural areas and troubled in the suburbs. 

My take: Disaster averted for Republicans, but 2020 weaknesses exposed on both sides.  Trump needs to do better with suburban women to have a chance to get reelected. Democrats are playing with fire in the Big 3 (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin) if they nominate a candidate who can’t compete for rural votes.

**Two new polls suggest trouble for the reelect.  Trump’s approval rating is down 6 points since July to 38% in an ABC News/Washington Post poll, while CNN has him with a 39% approval rating.

My take: National polls before the Democrats settle on a nominee are in most ways as relevant as a Flip UltraHD video camera.  But they do provide the mood music for restive Republicans who recognize the difference between gaining 6 points and gaining 9 points.

The president’s team of pollsters will look at this House result and these national polls and say, we need a plan to do better if we are going to win.  The president? He said this on Twitter:

“One of the greatest and most powerful weapons used by the Fake and Corrupt News Media is the phony Polling Information they put out. Many of these polls are fixed, or worked in such a way that a certain candidate will look good or bad. Internal polling looks great, the best ever!”

**With John Bolton’s sudden departure, the president will soon have a record-breaking fourth national security adviser in three years, while the meaningless debate over “fired or quit” still lingers.

My take: Classic Trump chaos move, followed by Classic Era of Trump reporting in the Washington Post on who was cheered by the ousting:

“In the wake of Bolton’s departure, a number of senior administration officials and Republicans close to the White House… offered up long lists of those who would not mourn him. They included first lady Melania Trump, Pence, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Mnuchin, countless Defense Department officials and numerous international leaders.”

That is quite a list, even for John Bolton!

**China gives a little on tariffs and Tom Friedman argues a medium-sized trade deal can be had if the president learns about the Asian concept of saving face.

My take: A deal has to happen to avoid the disastrous consequences of a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. And/but a deal can’t happen since neither side can give in enough because of their respective domestic politics.

**Another senior Trump official, Peter Navarro, talks bullish on the passage of the USMCA North American trade pact (he puts the odds of a 2019 successful vote at 100%), and puts the onus on Speaker Pelosi to bring it to the floor.

My take: A deal has to happen to avoid disastrous consequences of trade disruption with two huge partners.  And/but a deal isn’t going to happen until Pelosi is satisfied on the substance and the politics, and we aren’t close to there yet.

**The White House is still avoiding showing its cards (because it is still shuffling the deck) on gun safety legislation.

My take: Current order of likelihood (as is the norm in the Age of Trump): no deal, small deal, big deal.

**Both parties in DC want to tackle the cost of prescription drugs.

My take: Current order of likelihood (as is the norm in the Age of Trump): no deal, small deal, big deal.

**The number of Americans without health insurance coverage rose.

My take: The bizarre situation in which a government hostile to a major law continues to administer said law is showing predictable effects. The status quo is not good for Americans and 2020 is going to produce more of a muddle, unless one party runs the table.

**And the Groundhog Day dynamic holds on the Democratic side as well.  Biden is still strong in polling and is still searching for a contrast strategy with Elizabeth WarrenBernie Sanders is still stronger than most give him credit for being.  And Kamala Harris is still getting more news coverage about the process of her campaign troubles than she is about her ideas and vision (there are at least two reasons for that).

My overall take: As a great man once said, the first three letters of “news” are n-e-w.   A lot is moving around, but the churning is only the prelude, as we wait for something actually new. Thursday’s Democratic debate in Houston could be that moment. But don’t count on it.

Top sports story:Yelich out for season after fracturing kneecap

Top business story: US companies are canceling investment into China at a faster clip, survey shows

Top entertainment story: Sean Parker Takes Minority Stake In Peter Jackson’s VFX Facility WETA Digital

Big Four

Iowa and New Hampshire

Still on: Iowa, New Hampshire won’t nix 2020 GOP contests.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire gov signs ban of oil, gas drilling off coast.

South Carolina

SC to consider abortion ban; bill faces uncertain future.

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