Open Thread

The Open Thread for March 1, 2017

Taegan Goddard: “The overall theme was big solutions to big problems. The problem is that most of the problems Trump described aren’t real. By any measure, the economy has been growing for years, net illegal immigration is low, violent crime is down significantly and terrorism kills almost no one.  That said — and the bar is set quite low for this observation — Trump was relatively calm and “presidential.” The speech was well written and delivered reasonably well too.”

The man read from a teleprompter and completed sentences and the press went wild.   And the quote “the time for trivial fights is behind us?”  LOL.  You first Donald.  I agree with this woman:

Susan Page: “President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night underscored how he has redefined the Republicans’ political base and their policy message on issues from trade to immigration to deficits to international alliances. While he struck a sunnier tone than he did in his inaugural address six weeks ago, when he had talked darkly of ‘American carnage,’ he once again warned that the nation was threatened with decline at home and threats from abroad.”

“The hourlong speech was in many ways a conventional presidential address, with a laundry list of proposals, allusions to American history and tributes to American heroes. That’s notable in part because so much about Trump’s presidency has been unconventional — and because many of his populist, nationalist prescriptions that defy Republican orthodoxy are becoming part of the GOP mainstream.”

Playbook: “In terms of navigating Washington, the speech showed Trump has a lot to learn. He said he wants to work with Democrats and called on Washington to ditch ‘trivial fights,’ but, in the last 40 days, he has called Chuck Schumer a phony and, just this week, he said Nancy Pelosi is incompetent. He called for immigration reform, but is intent on building a ‘great wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border — a major problem for Democrats. He implored Democrats to work with him on a health-care overhaul, but spent a good chunk of time calling the Affordable Care Act — which they spent lots of political capital on — a failure. He also appeared to motion at Pelosi when railing against the law.”

“Newsflash: Mr. President, you’re going to need Nancy Pelosi more than you realize (see: debt ceiling, government funding, infrastructure). Get to know her. We’re not passing judgement on what Trump said. Merely discussing the political realities about what it means for governing. It was a mixed message, to put it mildly.”

Josh Marshall: “I think purely as a speech, its crafting, the thematic cadence and delivery, it was pretty average to unremarkable. It wasn’t a very good speech. Having said that, I think Trump may pick up a few points of support from the public because he seemed like a fairly normal person delivering it. This is admittedly an extremely low standard. But when you compare this Trump to the meltdown press conference Trump or the rageful, spewing Twitter Trump, he can’t help but seem more balanced and less threatening by comparison. Low bar. SAD! But there it is.

One observation on this front. There were three or four times when a large number of Democrats grumbled or guffawed or just chortled and laughed at Trump more or less to his face. The first and perhaps the biggest example was when he took credit for “draining the swamp.” I suspect his handlers worked very hard prepping him not to react when this happened. As far as I could tell, he never did. I suspect it was very difficult. Having a tightly prepared speech probably helped. In any case, he didn’t. And it’s very good for him that he didn’t.”

“The former British spy who authored a controversial dossier on behalf of Donald Trump’s political opponents alleging ties between Trump and Russia reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work,” the Washington Post reports.

“While Trump has derided the dossier as ‘fake news’ compiled by his political opponents, the FBI’s arrangement with Steele shows that bureau investigators considered him credible and found his line of inquiry to be worthy of pursuit.”

“Weeks after a U.S. naval officer was killed in a covert mission in Yemen, Trump has resisted accepting responsibility for authorizing the mission and the subsequent death of Senior Chief Petty Officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens,” the Washington Post reports.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said the mission “was started before I got here” and noted “they lost Ryan.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that President Trump’s first budget was “dead on arrival” and wouldn’t make it through Congress, The Hill reports.  Said Graham: “It’s not going to happen. It would be a disaster.”

New York Times: “Like many presidents before him, President Trump is pushing a bold budget proposal. But for a business executive used to getting his way, he is likely to find, as his predecessors did, that final budgets often bear little resemblance to the originals after being run through the shredder on Capitol Hill.”

New York Times: “When Republicans won in November, it looked as if 2017 would reflect a major legislative shift to the right. But two months into the 115th Congress and six weeks into the Trump administration, progress on fulfilling Republicans’ major domestic policy goals is looking further away, not closer.”

“This is partly just the usual slow grinding of legislative gears… But there’s another element in the sluggish or nonexistent progress on major elements of the Republican agenda. Large portions of the Republican caucus embrace a kind of policy nihilism. They criticize any piece of legislation that doesn’t completely accomplish conservative goals, but don’t build coalitions to devise complex legislation themselves.”

“The roster of congressional Republicans includes lots of passionate ideological voices. It is lighter on the kind of wonkish, compromise-oriented technocrats who move bills.”

A CNN instant poll last night found that 57% of those who watched President Trump’s address to Congress had a “very positive” reaction to Trump’s speech.  In contrast, 68% gave former President Obama a “very positive” reaction to his first joint session, compared to 66% for former president George W. Bush.

CBS News: “Overall, most watchers approved of the speech. Republicans did tune in to watch it in much greater numbers than Democrats (as a president’s party typically does) which bolstered those approval numbers. Forty percent of Democrats at least somewhat approved; 18 percent strongly approved.”

I didn’t watch.  But I still don’t approve.  Strongly.

Politico: “After promising for years to upend the Democratic health care law the first chance they got — and with plans to hold a vote to repeal by early April — the party remains far from consensus. So far, in fact, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called a special all-members caucus meeting Wednesday to try and get his rowdy caucus in line.”

“Two key House committee chairmen running point on the House’s Obamacare efforts will be on hand to explain why Republicans should support their proposal to roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and replace insurance subsidies with tax credits, among other provisions. But a leaked blueprint of their plan is already taking heat from the GOP’s right flank, jeopardizing the repeal bid.”

David Nather: “President Trump laid out a pretty general blueprint for Obamacare replacement last night — mostly tracking with the draft House Republican plan, but with a few new twists, like lower drug costs and a hint of tort reform. But his real message to Congress was: Don’t screw this up.”

3 comments on “The Open Thread for March 1, 2017

  1. Gerrymandering is part of this:

    “This is partly just the usual slow grinding of legislative gears… But there’s another element in the sluggish or nonexistent progress on major elements of the Republican agenda. Large portions of the Republican caucus embrace a kind of policy nihilism. They criticize any piece of legislation that doesn’t completely accomplish conservative goals, but don’t build coalitions to devise complex legislation themselves.”

    Good luck reaching a compromise on anything. The “policy nihilism” crowd has zero incentive to bend. They are in safe districts who voted for policy nihilism.

    I can’t say this enough. Dems need to stay out of this fight. Absolutely no assists. Let the GOP tear each other to shreds… that’s where this is headed.

    • Prop Joe

      “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a health care law under attack, for eight years. When it was all over, when the enemy had unleashed it’s best shot, I walked up and we didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ Republican idealogue able to get the job done and repeal the law… The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole of Capitol Hill. Smelled like… victory. Someday this war’s gonna end… and that law will still be there…”

  2. HyperbolicDem

    Trump will get a decent bump from this, if he can keep his mouth shut and not tweet for a while. I hold little hope this will happen. The issue with speeches like these is they are no true indication on action, but they do endear the base and party to him. Unless he gets all “Trumpy” in the next few days, it may give the GOP a tailwind to push their agendas forward.

    Let’s hope that Trump will be Trump again soon.

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