President Trump “was expected to spend the fall pushing his ambitious tax reform agenda and helping devastated regions in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico recover from hurricanes,” Politico reports. “Instead, over a period of three weeks, Trump has hammered the NFL into submission over the national anthem protests, repeatedly attacked the “fake news” media and now reopened a fight over his — and his predecessor’s — handling of Gold Star families.”
“But these seeming distractions are the president’s substance — and the legislative agenda his predecessors have approached with a singular focus is, for him, largely a diversion.”
Today in our latest chapter of diversion, Trump sent General Kelly out to attack the wife and mother of the slain veteran, LaDavid Johnson, as well as Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Josh Marshall called his remarks “volcanic:”
“[T]he entirety of his comments seemed exploitative, an effort to turn people’s certainly reasonable (and I believe accurate) sense of being appalled at the President into an attack on military service and military sacrifice. That’s not right. That’s not true. It’s a more emotion-packed version of Trump’s effort to turn the anthem/police brutality protests into dishonoring military sacrifice. He ended up by refusing to take questions from reporters who couldn’t say they personally knew a Gold Star Family.
Freedom of speech and the press is also sacred. It is one of the values American military personnel strive to defend. I understand that he said this in a moment of peaked emotion. But we individuals or reporters don’t earn our spurs of civic freedom by being proximate to military service. That’s ugly and wrong. I am going to leave aside Kelly’s motives. But this spectacle seemed ugly and exploitative, ignoring much of what has happened over the last three days, falsifying other things. President Trump is a blowhard and a phony and a liar. Kelly isn’t. He brings prestige and a lifetime of military service to every remark. But at the end of the day this seemed like putting that wrapper of dignity around the most Trumpian of traits: never apologize, always attack, let the truth defend itself.”
I will question Kelly’s motives. He dishonored himself today, and tarnished his credibility and career. He is now a full fledged Trumpist, more Bannon than Bannon could ever be. He is not there to contain Trump, he is there to give Trump military cover. So he can go fuck himself.
Do I applaud this speech from George W. Bush?
I really don't know. https://t.co/eRrnTMqrbH
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) October 19, 2017
“Former President George W. Bush never mentioned his name but delivered what sounded like a sustained rebuke to President Trump, decrying nationalism, protectionism and the coarsening of public debate while calling for a robust response to Russian interference in American democracy,” the New York Times reports.
Said Bush: “We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade, forgetting that conflict, instability and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism. We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”
Wall Street Journal: “Steve Bannon, the failed presidential adviser and alt-right sympathizer, has declared war on incumbent Republicans, particularly Sen. Mitch McConnell. From his perch at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon is vowing to defeat officeholders who back Mr. McConnell as majority leader or who won’t sign onto Mr. Bannon’s populist agenda. So what kind of challengers is Mr. Bannon marshaling for the midterms?”
“One is fresh out of prison. Another held a town hall to discuss ‘chemtrail’ theories… In open seats or races with Democratic incumbents, Mr. Bannon is backing consensus mainstream candidates.”
Time: “Moore is not only a culture warrior. He is a populist Christian and a soldier in the larger Republican revolution that is rooted in frustration with Washington and prizes anti-establishment anger over all else. The same uprising that carried President Donald Trump into the White House looks poised to deliver an even more disruptive figure, one the party cannot control…. And the revolution is about to spread well beyond Dixie. Its field general, former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, says he is recruiting a slate of insurgent outsiders who will vow to topple the Republican ruling class.”
“Bannon’s strategy is to knit together a disparate coalition, from evangelical populists to small-government libertarians, to take on the proverbial swamp. Already Bannon is jetting around the U.S., meeting with major Republican donors in a bid to convince them to defect from McConnell’s team…. If Moore loses in December, it would shave the party’s cushion in the upper chamber to a single vote—which means there is an outside chance that Moore’s rise and Bannon’s crusade could cost the party control of the Senate, giving Democrats the numbers, and the subpoena power, to thwart every aspect of Trump’s agenda. And in the much more likely event that Moore wins, the Senate is about to become harder to govern—if that’s possible.”
The math on Obamacare premiums, per numerous sources:
No Trump = “Single-digit” increase
Trump = 20-40% increasehttps://t.co/fy3jZlwm3i
— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) October 18, 2017
New York Times: “In a sign of mounting frustration among Republicans in Washington, Representative Pat Tiberi of Ohio, a senior lawmaker with close ties to his party’s leaders, is expected to resign and take up an executive post with a business group in his home state.”
“Mr. Tiberi, 54, could announce his plan to leave Congress as soon as this week, Republican officials said, though it is unclear when he intends to vacate his seat. Two Republicans who were briefed on Mr. Tiberi’s decision said he had indicated that he plans to join the Ohio Business Roundtable.”
Playbook: “It would be stunning — and quite the statement — if he leaves before tax reform is done.”
IS THE BIPARTISAN HEALTHCARE COMPROMISE DEAD OR NOT? Sam Baker: “Yes, the Senate’s bipartisan Affordable Care Act bill ran into some political roadblocks yesterday. The White House said President Trump, who had taken several positions over the course of the day, is against it. House Speaker Paul Ryan is also against it. And conservatives are against it.”
“The story of the Alexander-Murray bill likely won’t be over until December, when Congress has to take care of several must-pass bills, in negotiations where Democrats have a lot of leverage. The December agenda already includes funding the government and raising the debt ceiling — must-pass items that can only pass with a lot of Democratic votes, just like Alexander-Murray.”
“Key Senate Republicans are urgently trying to get President Trump to reconsider his apparent opposition to a bipartisan deal shoring up health insurance markets,” Politico reports.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who negotiated the deal with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), both spoke to the president about it on Wednesday evening. Said Graham: “You can’t save Obamacare but you can keep the markets from collapsing until we get a replacement, which will be Graham-Cassidy … I just don’t see a transition to Obamacare to a block grant that doesn’t require at least a couple years to implement.”
First Read lists five reasons why Democrats have a big edge in Virginia’s gubernatorial race:
- Trump: The current president’s job-approval rating in the state is in the 30s, and remember that Trump lost this state to Hillary Clinton by 5 points on his best day of the general election.
- History: With just one exception (in 2013 when Terry McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli), the party that controls the White House has lost every gubernatorial election in Virginia going back to the 1970s.
- GOP’s poor performance in Virginia: Since 2005, Democrats are 9-1 in major statewide elections in Virginia (for president, Senate, governor).
- Cash: Northam is outraising Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, which is stunning given Gillespie’s background as a former RNC chair and lobbyist.
- The advertising war: And Northam is also outspending Gillespie on the TV airwaves, while party spending is about even (see below for more on that).
But they note Gillespie does have one important advantage in this race: Democrats in Virginia don’t turn out as well in non-presidential years.
— New Republic (@NewRepublic) October 19, 2017
Edward Luce: “How many poison pills does it take to kill a trade deal? Three, according to Donald Trump. Mexico and Canada are bending over backwards to preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement. But their tolerance for Mr Trump’s demands is wearing thin. It seems a matter of time before he declares America’s exit from ‘the worst trade deal ever.’ The temptation to withdraw from the World Trade Organization will grow as Mr Trump’s term wears on. Anyone who thinks he has dropped his vow to rip up the global trading system has not been paying attention.”
“Such tactics are the opposite of the art-of-the-deal image Mr Trump has spun. According to that playbook, Mr Trump opens with extravagant demands that force his counterparties to improve their offers. The final deal is far better than had he begun with a realistic gambit. Yet when Mr Trump refuses to dilute his outrageous opening offer, the suspicion arises that he never wanted a deal. That, indeed, has been his approach to almost every negotiation.”
Axios: The industries at risk if Trump quits NAFTA
A handful of longtime Sanders allies are upset with a big DNC decision — but others aren’t. https://t.co/BMdsQuA4nD
— Vox (@voxdotcom) October 19, 2017
Charles Blow: “It is a commonly accepted rule among those who are in the business of argument, especially online, that he or she who invokes Adolf Hitler, either in oratory or essays, automatically forfeits the argument.”
“That said, there are strategies that Hitler used to secure power and rise — things that allowed his murderous reign — that can teach us about political theory and practice. And very reasonable and sage comparisons can be drawn between Hitler’s strategies and those of others.”
“Trump is no Hitler, but the way he has manipulated the American people with outrageous lies, stacked one on top of the other, has an eerie historical resonance. Demagogy has a fixed design.”
I don't think people quite realize what a big shift there's been in the Democratic Party's immigration policy in the last few years. This is an excellent @dlind piece tracking/explaining the change: https://t.co/WLFM32g4d9
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) October 18, 2017
Matt Bai: “Whatever his impact may be on the country or the world, Donald Trump’s presidency imperils the future of his party, and there isn’t a serious-minded Republican in Washington who would tell you otherwise, privately.”
“Trump doesn’t care what happens to Republicans after he’s gone. The party was always like an Uber to him — a way to get from point A to point B without having to find some other route or expend any cash.”
“Which leads to the question I hear all the time these days. Why aren’t more Republicans separating themselves from Trump? And why aren’t they doing more with the power they have to get in his way?”
Key takeaway: “The real fear for most elected officials in Washington isn’t that they may say something to offend persuadable voters… No, the fear now, if you’re sitting on either end of the Capitol, is that some no-name activist will decide to primary you, because you’ve somehow run afoul of extremists with followings on Twitter and Facebook, and you’ll have to spend all your time and money holding onto a job that you might very well lose, since it takes only one fringe group or millionaire and a few thousand angry voters to tip the balance in your average congressional primary.”
A federal judge heard arguments on whether Trump’s business profits violate the obscure foreign emoluments clause https://t.co/2zFVyEOkT4
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) October 19, 2017
President Trump delivered a conspiracy theory via a remarkable tweet in which he suggested Russian officials, the FBI and the Democratic Party worked together to create a dossier of potentially incriminating information about him during the 2016 presidential election. “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?” CNN: “Even by Trump standards, this morning’s tweet is somewhat remarkable.”