The Open Thread for February 11, 2018

It was rainy on the East Coast yesterday (and today), which meant that President Trump was prevented from going golfing or at least visiting one of his properties. So he stewed in the White House and tweeted his frustrations. One tweet “accused the Democrats of forcing his hand in blocking the release of a classified memo that rebuts Republican charges that law enforcement agencies abused their power in spying on a former Trump campaign aide,” the New York Times reports. Trump tweeted that the memo was “very political and long” and would have to be heavily redacted to protect “sources and methods (and more).” “He said that the Democrats knew that such a necessity would prompt him to block the memo and would open the White House to charges of a lack of transparency.”

Another tweet had him defending male abusers and attacking their women accusers.

Laura McGann: “Donald Trump doesn’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt — not political enemies, journalists, or even members of his own party. But on Saturday morning Donald Trump reminded us that there’s an exception to his rule: When a man in his orbit is accused of sexually abusing women, Trump is right there to defend him. […]

“Due process” has become a refrain used by skeptics of the #MeToo movement. It’s shorthand for the fear that if women are free to go public with their claims of abuse and the media amplifies them, men are at risk of being unfairly smeared and ruined. If the court of public opinion replaces the courts, their thinking goes, men will be denied the protections they deserve — which is to say the presumption of innocence.

Trump is sympathetic to the same school of thought. “He totally denies it,” Trump pointed out when Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl and sexually assaulting another teenager. “How do you know those bruises weren’t there before?” Trump asked when his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was caught on tape assaulting a reporter. And on Friday Trump said in a statement to the press: “[Porter] also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent. “ I think you have to remember that.”

Trump isn’t just defending these men. He’s defending himself. Trump faces dozens of accusations of sexual assault, which has forced Republicans, as my colleague Jane Coaston put it, to lower the bar for male behavior so that even he can meet it. When even that fails and an ally is on the rocks, he has to protect him to protect himself.”

“President Trump’s approval ratings have been nudging upward and his party’s political standing is improving, but the president’s unceasing habit of making inflammatory and insensitive remarks is galvanizing opposition against him — especially from women — that could smother Republican momentum going into the midterm campaign,” the New York Times reports.

“Saturday was a case in point. In a Twitter post, Mr. Trump appeared to raise doubts about the entire #MeToo movement, a day after he had offered sympathy for a former aide accused of spousal abuse.”

“The president’s seeming indifference to claims of abuse infuriated Republicans, who were already confronting a surge of activism from Democratic women driven to protest, raise money and run for office because of their fervent opposition to Mr. Trump.”

Politico: “The Trump White House has careened from one crisis to another since January, with the furor around the publication of Michael Wolff’s best-selling tell-all Fire and Fury — which sparked a public break between Trump and his former top strategist Steve Bannon — replaced by outrage sparked by Trump’s description of African countries as ‘shitholes,’ as well as a stand-off between Trump and the FBI over the ever-present Russia investigation. In the midst of all that, the government shut down – twice.”

Ronald Brownstein: “[Rust Belt White Women were] central to Trump’s victory, especially in the Rustbelt states that effectively decided the election. (Trump won at least 56 percent of those women in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, according to exit polls.) However, “Gallup put his 2017 approval with them at 45 percent in Pennsylvania, 42 percent in Michigan, and 39 percent or less in Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Compared to his 2016 vote, his 2017 approval among blue-collar white women in the Rustbelt represented some of his largest declines anywhere—18 percentage points in Ohio and 19 in Wisconsin and Minnesota. That erosion, which intensified during Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, creates the opening for Democrats to contest blue-collar and non-urban House seats this fall through the Midwest and Northeast.”

Politico: “Donald Trump has certainly helped. But Democrats’ massive success in flipping statehouse seats in special elections this past year isn’t happening by accident. The party’s dominance — it’s flipped 35 seats, and is hoping to make it 36 next week in a Florida House race — is also the result of old-fashioned political organizing. Nuts and bolts steps like funding year-round staff on the ground in the states, designing digital fundraising platforms, training volunteers, screening résumés for campaigns around the country and, of course, collecting huge checks.”

“At the center of those efforts is the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, mostly forgotten in the 25 years since it was founded as the D.C. hub for state legislative campaigns, but now working to coordinate efforts and partners, and along the way double its spending for the cycle to $35 million in strategic investments.”

“President Trump’s legislative affairs director, Marc Short, stood just off the Senate floor as Republicans cast a party-line vote on Trump’s tax package late last year, but his moment of triumph was brief. As she walked off the floor, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins spotted Short — and she exploded,” Politico reports.

“The White House had promised Collins, a moderate, that it would seek a vote before recess on guaranteeing payments to health insurers in order to stabilize Obamacare markets, a key issue for her. But under intense opposition from pro-life groups and from House conservatives, no such vote materialized. Collins berated Short for reneging on the deal and then walked off after Short tried to explain.”

Steve Bannon is quoted in a new edition of the book Devil’s Bargain as sharply criticizing what he terms the “anti-patriarchy movement” — that is, the movement against sexual harassment and assault — saying he believes it will “undo ten thousand years of recorded history,” CNN reports.

Said Bannon: “It’s a Cromwell moment! It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that — this is the Puritans! It’s anti-patriarchy.”

He added: “You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn’t juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch.”

Daily Beast: “As his White House has become engulfed in controversy over its handling of allegations of spousal abuse leveled against former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, President Donald Trump has privately questioned the credibility of the accusers. In fact, the president has gone as far as to express doubts to aides and friends about the assault allegations, and has asked repeatedly if there are any reasons Porter’s two ex-wives could have to make up such claims.”

“Trump’s skepticism has been apparent in discussions with confidants and officials, who tell The Daily Beastthat, at least in their conversations, he has not expressed sympathy for the ex-wives, Colbie Holderness and Jennifer Willoughby, who have gone on the record to allege physical violence.”

Deport them all.  Now.

Washington Post: “Dozens of White House employees, including Kushner, are still waiting for permanent clearances and have been operating for months on a temporary status that allows them to handle sensitive information while the FBI probes their backgrounds, U.S. officials have said. Two U.S. officials said they do not expect Kushner to receive a permanent security clearance in the near future.”

“It is not uncommon for ­security-clearance investigations to drag on for months, but Kushner’s unique situation has cast a pall over the process in the minds of some.”

Wall Street Journal: “In the West Wing press office, communications officer Mercedes Schlapp told some staffers to come to her with questions because Ms. Hicks was ‘dealing with a lot’ and ‘not able to perform the duties of communications director right now,’ according to three people familiar with the meeting. Two people described Ms. Schlapp’s move as a power play, while a third said Ms. Schlapp was only trying to protect the communications team.”

James Hohman: notes, “Meredith Kelly, the communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said her team focuses less on the ups and downs of national surveys than fielding top-flight candidates who can defeat GOP incumbents…Equally important, if not more important, [than the generic ballot] is that our district-specific data is really bad for Republicans,” she said. “We already have several district-specific polls that show the named Republican losing to the named challenger right off the bat. There’s another category where the named incumbent is winning right now in a head-to-head, but only earns in the mid to low 40s — a weak starting off point. There are other Democrats starting well behind the Republican, but even in those races, we have a lot of time and data that shows a lot of room for growth for the Democrats, who start out much lesser known.”

David Leonhardt makes the case for Republicans who want to restore a little dignity and sanity to their party to vote against their party’s candidates: “I recognize that voting against Republicans is as easy for a progressive to suggest as it is hard for a conservative to execute. But here’s my case to conservatives who do believe in facts and democratic norms (and would rather that Miami stay above water): You are politically homeless right now. Your party has become a destructive force. Its victories — which you may understandably celebrate, like a lower corporate tax rate — don’t make up for the damage the party is doing. And the other party obviously remains too left-wing for you…Your best hope is a sane conservative party. And the only route to a sane conservative party is a string of losses for the current Republican Party.” Today’s GOP, writes Leonhardt, is “doing significantly more damage than good, and there is little prospect that will change until Republican radicalism brings a political price.”

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

2 comments on “The Open Thread for February 11, 2018

  1. cassandram

    Mike Pence was a disgrace to the USA at the Olympics. The whole point of the Olympics is to set aside political differences for the games and the athletes in them. The USA may officially not be on board with the small reconciliation of the Koreas for the games, but there was no reason to disrespect their effort to get in the spirit of the games.

  2. Found Evil Steve Bannon’s comments to be contradictory: “this is the Puritans! It’s anti-patriarchy.” Au contraire, the Puritans were totally ancient times orthodox in their bad attitudes towards women, the reference to Cromwell is also rather odd. Bad batch of bourbon? As for Trump and Rob Portman truly the Republicans are trying to lower the bar for abusing women, surprised excavation has yet to begin as said bar is already at ground level. As for marijuana clearly America wants legalization, politicians want legalization as well for the revenue, but many still refuse to admit it. Still stand amazed that the greedy garbage in Dover has not legalized, suspect their waiting for the train to well and truly leave the station before attempting to get on board.

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