Tuesday, November 12, 2019


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ON THE ONE HAND AND THE OTHER
 

At noon today in Gotham City, President Trump is slated to give remarks to the Economic Club of New York. 

My take: On the one hand, the president is going to talk about the economy; on the other hand, no one thinks this address will win much coverage or that the president will keep on this message for very long (a/k/a even for today).

This is the kind of speech a typical incumbent president facing reelection gives. Get out the teleprompter, put distractions aside, pick a place and time ostensibly guaranteed to garner lots of media coverage, and get the politico-media and real worlds focused on an economy that is working for many (but not all) Americans.

But even if the president gives a, uhm, perfect speech, the chances are nil that his talk of unemployment, the stock market, deregulation, trade, and other elements of a plan for an improved economy will pull the press’ attention away from the impeachment hearings that start on Wednesday.

Still, congressional Republicans and the president’s own reelection team will be psyched if today’s speech becomes a template for at least some of the campaign trail and White House rhetoric Trump relies on to fight to keep his job, both during the impeachment process and in November, 2020.

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IMPEACHMENT

It was Sun Tzu or Chris Lehane who said, “When facing hostile fire, it is best to have your own camp united.”

How true.  And how comically fractured is Team Trump now!

Which of these conflicts is most dangerous and most fraught:

1. Bolton vs. Mulvaney?

2. Mulvaney vs. Cipollone?

3. Trump vs. Mulvaney?

4. Haley vs. Kelly/Tillerson?

Of all the almost-too-nuts-to-believe circular firing squad stuff, this, from the New York Times is the most eye catching:

“Despite his own tenuous job status, Mr. Mulvaney has privately told associates in recent days that there is no easy way for Mr. Trump to fire him in the midst of the impeachment fight, the implication being that he knows too much about the president’s pressure campaign to force Ukraine to provide incriminating information about Democrats.”

While these tiffs are catnip for the press, maybe this is more problematic for the president: at a conference, Condoleezza Rice described the events surrounding impeachment both “murky” and “deeply troubling.”

My take: The executive branch follies are important and interesting, but the impeachment process is more about the question of how well Trump can hold together congressional Republicans to oppose impeachment and removal no matter what.

One under-noticed congealing piece of conventional wisdom:  unanimous House Republican opposition on the articles of impeachment are now seen as providing substantial leverage to minimize “no” votes in the Senate, or maybe even to dismiss the case after a short trial.

So are Hill GOPers happy with how the White House is handling things or not?

On the one hand: “This impeachment trial is going to be here before the White House knows it, and they’re not even remotely prepared for it. What they need desperately is leadership to get ready, but until Mulvaney and Cipollone put aside their petty squabbles and start working together, all they’ll have is tweets.” – a “Senate GOP aide” to the Washington Post

 

On the other hand, also in the Washington Post:  “If the headlines of the past few weeks have not been enough to move congressional Republicans, however, it’s unclear what — if anything — will.”

Actually, both are true.

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2020

In reality, what Team Trump is counting on most of all is for the Democrats’ presidential nominating process to be divisive, long, and leading the eventual pick to the far left.

On that score, it has been a bad news cycle for those Democrats worried about getting a quick, electable nominee.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that the Big 4 in Iowa are the Big 4 in New Hampshire.

The Granite State survey has Biden 20, Warren 16, Buttigieg 15, and Sanders 14.  It is rare for either party to have Iowa and New Hampshire polls be so similar. 

That bunching up suggests it could be a long time before there is a de facto nominee.

Now word that former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is, like Michael Bloomberg, on the cusp of entering the race.

Patrick has roughly the same rationale as Bloomberg (the Big 4 will not yield a candidate who can beat Trump), and, like Bloomberg, some huge obstacles to overcome with a late-starting campaign that offsets his strengths to some degree.

These two paragraphs from Politico will cheer the Warren-Sanders wing of the party:

“’This is coming from Wall Street. They’re terrified of Warren. And these guys would help Biden. But they’ve been in a room with him up close and they have doubts,’ the source said. ‘Deval wants this. He regrets not having done it. His wife was ill. But since then, she has gotten better. But the field has gotten worse.’

“That leaves South Carolina as Patrick’s best bet, in part because of its large African-American population. At the moment, Biden is dominant there among black voters. If Biden remains competitive in the three prior early states and Patrick campaigns hardest in South Carolina along with Harris, it sets up a scenario where the black vote could be divided, allowing the two progressives, Warren or Sanders, a better shot at winning — the exact scenario that Patrick’s backers want to avoid.”

The Washington Post story on the Patrick trial balloon has an extraordinary litany of all the opposition-research-fueled hits he will face if he enters the race, including his Bain ties, which have not served former Bay State governors well in past presidential campaigns.

As for Bloomberg, the New York Times editorial page has a one-two punch that represents either a small or large puncture in his trial balloon, depending on your view of the world.

From Paul Krugman: “But the idea that America is just waiting for a billionaire businessman to save the day by riding in on a white horse — or, actually, being driven over in a black limo — is just silly. It is, in fact, the kind of thing only a billionaire could believe.”

Seems kinda rough, eh? 

Not compared to what Charles Blow writes in the same space keying off of Bloomberg’s record on stop-and-frisk, which should be bracing for the former mayor’s largely white, male, and privileged political advisers:

“Let me plant the stake now: No black person — or Hispanic person or ally of people of color — should ever even consider voting for Michael Bloomberg in the primary.

“Just the idea of Bloomberg in the race is odious to me. And support for his candidacy incenses me. Anyone who would support Bloomberg is complicit in his terror campaign against those young black and Hispanic men — and dismissive of their pain.

“If you support Bloomberg, I want nothing to do with you. Nothing!”

My take: On the one hand, all of that should worry Democrats who are concerned about beating an elected incumbent president for only the fifth time since 1900.

But on the other hand, I would point to two other data points that should bother the worriers more.

First, even Paul Krugman has concerns, expressed in his column on Bloomberg, channeling Paul Gigot:

“I’m not saying that the U.S. public is necessarily ready for the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. I worry in particular about the politics of Medicare for All, not because of the cost, but because proposing the abolition of private insurance could unnerve tens of millions of middle-class voters.”

Second, read this New York Times article on the Twitter evisceration of Chuck Schumer for his praise of Peter King and see if you think the dynamics involved make it more or less likely that the next president of the United States will be a Democrat.

****

IN OTHER NEWS

Jimmy Carter is in the hospital for an emergency brain procedure.

More tensions in Hong Kong.

The Israelis killed a senior jihadist in Gaza.

There is bipartisan unhappiness in Congress about Wednesday’s planned Trump-Erdogan meeting.

****

Big Four

Iowa

A look inside Elizabeth Warren’s systematic, methodical approach to Iowa — and her rise in the polls.

Julián Castro, in Iowa, says Iowa, New Hampshire aren’t reflective of Democrats, U.S. diversity.

New Hampshire

Trump, 2020 Dem contenders tout efforts to boost veterans.

****


Top sports story: 49ers fall to 8-1 as Seahawks squeak by with OT victory

ESPN

Top business story: Burger King to launch meatless burgers across Europe and test more Impossible burgers in the US

CNBC

Top entertainment story: Oscar Predictions 2019: Breaking Down the Early Frontrunners

Variety

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