Sunday, November 3, 2019


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QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS

Some Wide World of News readers do not like the traditional Friday news quiz, while others consider it their favorite feature.

While I wait for everyone to weigh in, here’s another type of quiz – this one has questions with no known answers.

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Will Joe Biden find it as easy to embrace negative TV ads against other Democrats as he did to embrace a Super PAC?

Who represents a greater threat to President Trump — John Bolton or Anonymous?

Who has a better sense of how bad things are — Jill Biden or Joe Biden?

Will Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer do anything concrete to stop their party from nominating someone who supports the Green New Deal and eliminating private health insurance?

Who are 15th through 20th most likely Republican senators to vote to convict?

When will Team Trump put out its best opposition research on Elizabeth Warren?

Which contains more potentially lethal information — Team Trump’s opposition research on Elizabeth Warren or Team Warren’s self opposition research?

Who is the third most likely Democratic presidential nominee?

Who is the fourth most likely Democratic nominee?

What are the arguments against whoever the Democrats nominate for president choosing Senator Tammy Baldwin as the vice presidential pick?

If Warren or Sanders has the most delegates going into the convention but loses the nomination to an establishment candidate on the second ballot when the super delegates get to vote, what impact will that have on general election turnout?

Under what circumstances would Donald Trump accept the Commission on Presidential Debates proposed schedule, number of debates, and moderators?

Would Trump have a better chance to beat Warren or Pelosi in a general election?

Most of all right now (as former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack raised this weekend): How will Warren and Pete Buttigieg survive their time in the barrel?

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ESSENTIAL READING

The Washington Post dominates the day.

1. The Post editorial board speaks truth to those out of power: the Trump economy is doing pretty well (with some big caveats), and any candidate who wants to beat Trump is going to have to learn to talk convincingly about both the current strengths and the caveats. 

My take: The Post implies that none of the Democratic hopefuls are doing this well right now, and the Post is correct.

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2. Another cautionary note for Democrats who think impeachment is the final nail in the coffin for Trump’s reelection chances: California’s resident political wizard, Willie Brown, states unambiguously in an op ed that after a Senate acquittal, Trump will be politically stronger.

My take: The right question for many Democrats at this point is not “Will impeachment help Trump?” but “What can be done during the process to mitigate the political advantage it will bring him?”

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3. The groupthink of the national political press corps is that Biden and Sanders are yesterday and Warren and Buttigieg are tomorrow.  The new Washington Post national poll of Democrats has these numbers:

Biden                  28
Warren                23
Sanders               17
Buttigieg              9

No one else is anywhere.

For those ready to write off Biden, note this:

“Biden continues to lead on the question of electability, with 42 percent saying he has the best chance to defeat Trump, compared with 17 percent who say the same for Warren, 16 percent for Sanders, 3 percent for Buttigieg and 2 percent for Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). Biden is seen as the strongest leader by 35 percent of Democrats, compared with 20 percent who say this of Sanders and 19 percent for Warren.”

And read these voter quotes from another Post story:

“’You saw what happened last time,’ said Nina Smith, 80, a retiree who attended a recent event for Booker in West Des Moines but remains undecided in the race. ‘You can love someone so much in your heart, but in your head, you wonder if they can really beat Trump.’


“Margaret Torrie, a 72-year-old retiree from Ames, said the pressure of making a decision was so stressful that she was having nightmares.

“’The number one issue for me is that I don’t want to see Trump reelected,’ said Torrie, an undecided voter who recently attended a Harris event. ‘But I have these dreams, these almost Technicolor dreams where we’ve picked the wrong person, and I wake up in the middle of the night in a panic.’”

My take: As I suggested yesterday, all four of the currently viable candidates are flawed in some significant ways.  For those (including the other campaigns) who think Biden’s big edge on electability is simply a function of name ID: think again.

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4. The Los Angeles Times on Buttigieg’s challenge with African American voters.

My take: This story has obviously been written before, but this is a very good version of it, and it has more meaning and relevance now that Buttigieg is being considered a top tier candidate.

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5. The Washington Post, again, on Mike Pence’s Saturday foray into the Blue (not Purple) Commonwealth of Virginia, ahead of Tuesday’s legislative elections.

My take: To rally the base, the vice president declared these races to be a referendum on President Trump.  That is unlikely to turn out to have been a smart thing to say after Tuesday.

6. The Washington Post on Trump’s special loathing for Ukraine.

My take: Some day, historians will realize that part of understanding Trump’s brain is figuring out what differentiates those people and things for which Trump can see gray (Jared, Mitch McConnell, the NFL) from those where he can only see black or white (Ivanka, Adam Schiff, the quality of the food at his clubs).  The brilliance of the reporting in this story is that it demonstrates conclusively that Ukraine for Trump is in the black/white category, which explains a lot about how he got into the mess he is in.

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7. The Washington Post on the preliminary thoughts of both parties on how the battle for public opinion around the open House impeachment hearings will be waged.

My take: Most of the media will be rooting for the Democrats, but don’t discount the GOP efforts to create fog, elongate the proceedings, and play to the public’s relative lack of interest in the whole shooting match.

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8. Here’s a New York Times headline: “Judge Blocks Trump’s Plan to Bar Immigrants Who Can’t Pay for Health Care”

My take: If I can state the obvious: between impeachment and the Democratic nomination battle, a lot of important stuff is happening that simply isn’t getting the coverage it deserves.

An underappreciated element of that: Which Democratic presidential candidates have the vision and rhetorical chops to integrate significant daily developments into their stump speeches in a manner that catches the imagination of voters?

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Top sports story: World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg opts out of deal with Nationals

ESPN

Top business story: Saudi Aramco IPO: Domestic listing set to begin trading in December

CNBC

Top entertainment story: ‘SNL’: Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ Plan Leads Cold Open

Variety

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