The New Years Eve Open Thread

New York Times: “During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

“About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.”

“Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts.”

Jack Shafer: “Bringing up collusion unbidden, Trump returned to it again and again, scratching it like a suppurating wound, probing his own threshold of pain… If you witnessed this tic at the movies, you’d reckon that the scab-picker was a little bit nuts. But if the scab-picker got caught searching the face of his interviewer for a reaction, you’d ask yourself, ‘What is the old fox up to?’”

“Like advertising writers, sloganeers and propagandists, Trump appreciates the power repetition has on the lax mind. Properly executed, the right catchphrase can work as both setup and punch line and occupy mind-space in friends and adversaries even when spoken out of context. By repeatedly pressing the ‘no collusion’ hotkey, Trump challenges his foes, who believe he has compromised his country, to prove it—or to shut up. He also succeeds in cueing his allies to ridicule his enemies.”

Walter Shapiro reminds us that President Nixon held on to power for nine months after he fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate break in.

“The actual history of the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre and the weeks that followed serves as a reminder of the many twists in the road to Nixon’s political demise. While the rule of law ultimately prevailed, it was a closer call than many now remember.”

“The larger historical lessons begin with a stark warning to Trump not to interfere with a Justice Department investigation. But they also include the self-defeating naiveté of liberals who believe that Trump is fast on the way to impeachment and conviction.”

Washington Blade: “With no explanation, the White House has terminated members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS amid widespread discontent with President Trump’s approach to the epidemic.”

“After six members of PACHA resigned in June, the White House on Wednesday terminated the remaining 16 members without explanation via a letter from FedEx.”

Toronto Star: “President Trump sat down Thursday for a rare interview with a media outlet other than Fox News, holding an impromptu 30-minute session with New York Timesreporter Michael Schmidt at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.”

“He made nearly one false claim per minute — 25 false claims in all.”

David Wasserman: “Trump’s upset was powered by white voters without college degrees. The problem for Republicans? Voters without college degrees have a dismal track record of voting in off-year elections. This is similar to the problem Obama had: His base of young and non-white voters also had a terrible history of showing up in off years. That didn’t change after he took office, and it cost Democrats dearly in 2010 and 2014.”

“Simply put, 2018 is on track to be the “Year of the Angry White College Graduate.” I’d estimate the college-educated share of the electorate will be around 43 or 44 percent next year, up from 39 percent in 2016. That’s dreadful news for Republicans: These voters have indicated the highest intensity of opposition to Trump in polls, and we’ve already seen them power Democrats to victory in Virginia and Alabama.”

David Ignatius: “The shrinking space for governance worries me at year-end. The problem begins at the top: President Trump is the most unpopular president in modern times. He’s less admired than his predecessor, Barack Obama. He misreads the nation: The more divisive Trump has become — the more he picks at the nation’s scabs — the less the public likes him, according to polls. Yet Trump persists, playing to his base, with harmful consequences for the country.”

“Trump is a defiant nationalist, and perhaps he hopes to be a unifier. But as this year ends, the numbers tell us that he has brought a level of division and disarray that should worry even his most passionate supporters.”

“Two Republican senators have called off a planned trip to Russia after the Kremlin denied a visa to a Democratic colleague, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen,” Politico reports.

“Shaheen, an outspoken backer of a Russia sanctions bill that Congress approved overwhelmingly earlier this year, had been scheduled to visit Russia along with GOP colleagues Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Barasso of Wyoming. But a Shaheen spokesman said the senator believes the Kremlin has placed her under a travel sanction, prohibiting her visit.”

Dana Millbank: “The 2012 Republican presidential nominee has been reluctant to announce a primary challenge to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Republican senator in history. But America needs Romney to step up, to restore dignity to the Senate — and to save the country from the embarrassment Hatch has become.”

“Hatch, long the picture of conservative rectitude, was once a conscientious legislator, even partnering with Ted Kennedy when he thought poor kids were getting a raw deal. But Hatch, the Senate president pro tempore, has undergone a grotesque transformation this year, his 84th on earth and 42nd in the Senate. He has become chief enabler of and cheerleader for President Trump.”

Michael Grunwald: “The most consequential aspect of President Trump—like the most consequential aspect of Candidate Trump—has been his relentless shattering of norms: norms of honesty, decency, diversity, strategy, diplomacy and democracy, norms of what presidents are supposed to say and do when the world is and isn’t watching. As I keep arguing in these periodic Trump reviews, it’s a mistake to describe his all-caps rage-tweeting or his endorsement of an accused child molester or his threats to wipe out ‘Little Rocket Man’ as unpresidential, because he’s the president. He’s by definition presidential. The norms he’s shattered are by definition no longer norms. His erratic behavior isn’t normal, but it’s inevitably becoming normalized, a predictably unpredictable feature of our political landscape.”

“It’s how we live now, checking our phones in the morning to get a read on the president’s mood. The American economy is still strong, and he hasn’t started any new wars, so pundits have focused a lot of their hand-wringing on the effect his norm-shattering will have on future leaders, who will be able to cite the Trump precedent if they want to hide their tax returns or use their office to promote their businesses or fire FBI directors who investigate them. But Trump still has three years left in his term. And the norms he’s shattered can’t constrain his behavior now that he’s shattered them.”

On the 100-day mark since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told ABC News that the federal response to the storm was inadequate and blamed President Trump.

Said Cruz: “He was disrespectful to the Puerto Rican people, he was disrespectful to the American people who were leaving their homes to come help us here. Where he needed to be a commander-in-chief, he was a disaster-in-chief. President Trump does not embody the values of the good-hearted American people that have make sure that we are not forgotten.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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