“Many prominent Democrats and Republicans who opposed Donald Trump are fleeing Washington for the inauguration, heading far from the capital to plot anti-Trump strategy or simply avoid the pain of witnessing inauguration celebrations,” Politico reports.
“Inauguration departures by operatives on the losing side of an election are common every four years, but they’re taking on a different tone this time after an unusually ugly election season. Many Democrats are in no mood to see the swearing in of a man they consider a unique threat to the nation.”
At Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik surveys the upcoming Governor’s races for 2017 and 2018 and observes, “More than four-fifths of all Americans live in states holding gubernatorial elections over the next two years. Two states, New Jersey and Virginia, will elect governors in 2017, and 36 other states will hold their elections next year. That includes nine of the 10 most populous states…the 2017-2018 slate of governors provides many opportunities for Democrats. Republicans currently control 33 of 50 governorships, while Democrats hold only 16 (there’s one independent, Bill Walker of Alaska). Of the 38 governorships being contested over the next two years, Republicans already hold 27 and Democrats control 10 (Walker is also up for reelection). Additionally, and here’s where the statistics about the power of gubernatorial incumbency come into play, many of these governorships will be open-seat races. Neither New Jersey nor Virginia will have an incumbent on the ballot in November, and next year roughly half or slightly more of the gubernatorial races will be open seats (a few incumbents are still deciding whether to run again).
As we head into the Trump era, history tells us that the president’s party often loses ground up and down the ballot over the course of his term. That extends to state-level offices: Every post-World War II president, starting with Harry Truman, saw his party lose net governorships from when he took office to when he left office. The average loss during the postwar presidencies is 11. It seems likely, though far from guaranteed, that Republicans will lose net governorships during Trump’s presidency: That’s partially because of history and partially because the Republicans already control a lofty 33 governorships, their highest total in the postwar era.”
For a revealing round-up of the effects of voter suppresion in the 2016 election, check out Gabrielle Gurley’s American Prospect post, “Voter Suppression Works Too Well: The Republicans’ quest for a permanent political majority culminated in mammoth voter suppression in 2016. The 2018 midterm election promises both to embolden these efforts and energize resistance.” But also read Greg Palast’s “The Election was Stolen – Here’s How…” for an informative look at “Crosscheck,” the GOP’s voter purge operation, which Palast and others believe to be the most effective disenfranchisement strategy.
Richard Wolffe at The Guardian says Trump’s trainwreck press conference ushers in a clueless presidency:
If the potentially explosive story embroiling him weren’t so salacious, you might say this is a case of the emperor’s new clothes. Instead, it’s safe to say the Trump presidency is already in shambles. And it has yet to reach its official start.
For a showman who promised to restore the Reagan era – and even ripped off Reagan’s slogan – this is just one of the most surprising revelations of the past few days.
Reagan and his advisers knew how to project a sunny image that kept the presidency separate from whatever the pesky media wanted to focus on, such as high unemployment or secret gun-running to enemy states.
Judging from Wednesday’s trainwreck press conference – the first since July – Trump and his handlers have no self-discipline and no strategy to deal with the Russian crisis that has been simmering for the best part of the past year.
David Dayen at The Nation says Trump Just Stumbled Into a Canyon on Obamacare:
Amid the gnashing of teeth about the press corps’ performance and the general circus-like atmosphere at Donald Trump’s press conference, we shouldn’t overlook what a bind he just put his party into on the biggest legislative fight of his presidency.
Asked about Obamacare, Trump largely reiterated comments made to The New York Times, that any overhaul of the system must both repeal the bulk of the Affordable Care Act and replace it “essentially simultaneously.” In addition, Trump said that he would introduce his own plan as soon as Representative Tom Price, the nominee for secretary of Health And Human Services, is confirmed.
This delivers a Viking funeral to the absurd “repeal and delay” concept, which would have built a two-to-four-year cliff for Obamacare in an attempt to force Democrats to collaborate in its elimination. That idea had already been teetering, with multiple senators balking at voting to end the current system without a plan for the future.
Eugene Robinson writes an eloquent column about the Obamas:
The White House is really a glass house, and for eight years we have watched the Obamas live their lives in full public view. We’ve seen a president age, his hair graying and his once-unlined face developing a wrinkle here, a furrow there. We’ve seen a first lady change hairstyles and model an array of designer gowns. We’ve seen two little girls grow into young women.
We’ve seen it all before — except that we’ve never seen an African American family in these roles. Images of the Obamas performing the duties of the first family are indelible, and I believe they will be one of the administration’s most important and lasting legacies.
Libby Nelson at Vox reports that the House Republican with power to investigate Trump is threatening Trump’s critics instead:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, hasn’t offered even mild criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s many conflicts of interest. But he’s plenty upset with the federal government’s top ethics watchdog, who called out Trump in an unusually public and critical speech on Wednesday.
Chaffetz has summoned Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics, to the Hill for a closed-door interview, and he’s reminded Shaub that his committee has the power to pull the plug on his agency.
“Your agency’s mission is to provide clear ethics guidance, not engage in public relations,” Chaffetz wrote in a letter to Shaub.
Since Election Day, the OGE has struggled to work with the Trump administration to make sure it’s following ethics rules. Shaub’s growing frustration has spilled out publicly in tweets, in emails released under the Freedom of Information Act, and at a forum on Wednesday, when Shaub called Trump’s plan to step back from his businesses day to day “meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective.”
Chaffetz does have a point that Shaub has been unusually public and vocal about the new administration. But Chaffetz’s main job isn’t to defend the administration from attacks. He’s supposed to serve as a check on the executive branch, particularly holding the presidency accountable — and instead he’s going after a relatively powerless member of the executive branch who is critical of Trump.
Said Trump: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
David Atkins says that the Dems were not going to win both the 2016 and the 2020 elections, because winning 4 elections in a role is nearly impossible and unprecedented in our modern history (it happened once under the current party structure, and it involved FDR). So if you are going to lose one of them, 2016 is the one to lose.
If Democrats had to win only one of the two elections, 2020 is by far the more important. That’s because the elections in every zero-year coincide with the Census: those who win the governorships and legislatures in the zero year have control over the district lines redrawn after the Census. The biggest reason Democrats continue to lose the House despite winning more overall votes is that the Republican surge in 2010 allowed them to gerrymander Congressional and legislative district lines all around the country. A Democratic wave in 2020 would allow Democrats to redraw those lines after an even more favorable census, potentially giving them a decade of dominance similar to that held by Republicans today. Losing the chance to replace Justice Scalia hurts, but the Supreme Court hangs in the balance every presidential cycle, and 2020 will be no different. Assuming that the more liberal justices of the Supreme Court can stay healthy over the next four years, it is also possible that the president elected in 2020 may have more control over the future of the Court than the one elected in 2016.