• Rough Day for Biden
• Obama Announces Anti-Gerrymandering Initiative
• Democrats Target State Legislatures
• Kennedy May Mount Senate Bid
• Rep. Sean Duffy to Retire
• Sarah Huckabee Sanders Launches Website
• No Patriots at the White House
Maybe Donald Trump is embarrassed about his less-than-stellar outing at the G7. Maybe he's nervous about the trade war with China and/or a possible recession. Or maybe the cheese has slipped a little further off the cracker. In any event, he unspooled several whoppers on Monday that are so implausible that they don't even require fact-checking.
Let's start with his biggest Twitter lie (among several):
The question I was asked most today by fellow World Leaders, who think the USA is doing so well and is stronger than ever before, happens to be, “Mr. President, why does the American media hate your Country so much? Why are they rooting for it to fail?”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2019
Keep in mind that there were six other world leaders from the G7 countries: Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Giuseppe Conte, Shinzō Abe, and Boris Johnson, along with Donald Tusk from the EU. Also invited as guests were Scott Morrison (Australia), Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (Burkina Faso), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Egypt), Narendra Modi (India), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Macky Sall (Senegal), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), and Pedro Sánchez (Spain). Which of these folks could plausibly have asked him those questions, worded in that way? And just one of them wouldn't get it done, it would have to be several, in order for this to be "most asked." You can see why this doesn't pass the smell test.
Similarly, Trump skipped out on the discussion of global warming that took place on the last day of the summit. We all know why he skipped out; his only real job was to come up with a plausible excuse. But he couldn't pull it off. At one point, he claimed that he had meetings scheduled at the same time with some of the other G7 leaders. When it was pointed out to him that all the other G7 leaders were present for the climate change discussion, and presumably don't have the power to be in two places at once, Trump changed his story. The new version was that he misunderstood when the climate-change meeting was scheduled for, and that he showed up for it in the afternoon only to find that it was completed. It's certainly possible that Trump could become confused about his own schedule, but does he really have nobody else to keep things straight? Very hard to believe.
All of this was warmup for his G7 finale, however. After a joint press availability with Macron, Trump remained behind and faced reporters by himself. In a manner of just minutes, he managed to issue forth with eight mega-sized lies, grossly misrepresenting the Iran nuclear deal, the tariffs on China, the state of American energy production, and the United States' trade deficit with the EU. Far and away the biggest eye-roller, however, was this: "The first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-Un, and I think she would agree with me he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential." Melania Trump, who barely undertakes official duties of any sort, much less high-level diplomacy, has never met or even spoken to Kim, of course. Later in the day, with the Internet blowing up, and Trump headed home on Air Force One, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tried to clean the situation up, explaining that "President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim—and while the First Lady hasn't met him, the President feels like she's gotten to know him too." Of course, this cover story is almost as hard to believe as the original falsehood; does anyone really think that Melania takes a deep and abiding interest in governance, or that Trump is the type to regularly take her into his confidence?
Again, who knows what's going on, but it certainly seems like Trump is about 33% less hinged these days. James Fallows, writing for Tha Atlantic, had an interesting piece recently entitled "If Trump Were an Airline Pilot." His argument is that if Trump were indeed an airline pilot, he would already have been relieved of duty. The same holds if he were a surgeon, or a military officer, or a university administrator. In fact, concludes Fallows, there are only two lines of work where someone could behave as Trump has and keep their job. One is President with a Senate controlled by the same party, and the other is...CEO of a family-owned business. In short, the President has a gift for picking the right jobs for his personality. (Z)
Donald Trump wasn't the only one making a lot of the wrong kind of headlines on Monday. His would-be general election opponent, Joe Biden, didn't have the best day, either. First up is a shocker of a poll from Monmouth. Here's everyone who finished above 1%:
The careful reader will notice that Biden is not in first place, nor in second. Admittedly, his third-place finish is within the margin of error, so it's really a three-way tie at the top, but even that is way worse than the 10-point leads he's enjoyed throughout most of the race.
Now, we're not really buying that it's become a three-headed race. Particularly so quickly, and in the absence of any development that might explain the change. Indeed, Politico/Morning Consult came out with their latest shortly after the Monmouth poll came out, and they had Biden with his customary double-digit lead (13 points), followed by Sanders at 20% and Warren at 15%. Still, every time Biden gets an adverse poll like that, it raises questions, and produces pieces like this one, entitled "Biden electability argument takes hit." The question, which is a valid one regardless of that Monmouth poll, is whether "I'm preferable to Donald Trump" is enough to get it done. The linked piece argues that it is not, and that people need to be clearer about what Biden stands for, and what he will do to make their lives better. Certainly, "I'm preferable to Donald Trump" didn't get it done for Hillary Clinton, as she focused on that message in the last months of that campaign to the exclusion of nearly everything else.
A bad poll wasn't the only adverse news for Biden on Monday. There have frequently been whispers (or more than whispers) that his relatives profited financially from his political connections. The latest, from Politico, reveals that Biden's younger brother James told potential business partners that Joe would steer business toward them once he was elected president. There's no evidence that Joe knew about these promises, and obviously there is a long history of presidential brothers (or half-brothers) trying to cash in on their proximity to power, including Billy Carter, Roger Clinton, and Malik Obama. Still, a story like this is not a good look, especially when these sorts of accusations have been leveled against the candidate before. What it amounts to is that Biden needs to avoid having too many more days like the one he had on Monday. Of course, that is easier said than done. (Z)
While Joe Biden was flailing a bit, his former boss was announcing a new initiative. It's called Redistricting U, and is part of Obama's and the Democrats' efforts to push back against gerrymandering. The newly announced program will deploy trainers across the country, who will teach activists to "be leaders in the movement for fair maps."
It's a little hazy how the nuts and bolts of this will actually work, but it is worth noting that Obama is a former community organizer, and an incredibly gifted manager of logistics. His campaign apparatus, both in 2008 and 2012, was an absolute machine. So, if anyone knows how to make something like this work, it's him. Meanwhile, it is clear that the Democrats have learned their lesson from the surprise the GOP pulled on them after the 2010 census, and won't allow themselves to be caught with their 100% sustainably-farmed wool Santorelli Lux Serge Twill Dress Pants down again (more below). (Z)
While Team Obama is focused on training anti-gerrymander shock troops, Democratic activist groups are focused on raising and spending the money needed to re-take as many state legislative chambers as is possible. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is leading the way, and is on pace to collect a remarkable $50 million this cycle. Other groups that are raising and spending include EMILY's List, the Democratic Governors Association, and American Bridge.
Here's a breakdown of the chambers that the blue team is focused upon in 2019:
|Chamber||Seats Needed:||Out Of:||Notes|
|Virginia Senate||+1||40||With the Virginia House, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Virginia House||+1||100||With the Virginia Senate, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Louisiana House||+12 to +16||105||Also trying to save Gov. John Bel Edwards; goal is to prevent GOP trifecta|
And here are their 2020 targets:
|Chamber||Seats Needed:||Out Of:||Notes|
|Minnesota Senate||+3||67||With the Minnesota House, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Minnesota House||+9||203||With the Minnesota Senate, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Pennsylvania Senate||+3||50||With the Pennsylvania House, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Pennsylvania House||+9||203||With the Pennsylvania Senate, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Wisconsin Senate||+2||33||With the Wisconsin House, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|Wisconsin House||+14 or +15||99||With the Wisconsin Senate, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|North Carolina Senate||+4||50||With the North Carolina House, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|North Carolina House||+5||120||With the North Carolina Senate, would give Democrats a trifecta|
|New Hampshire Governor||Would give the Democrats a trifecta|
|Florida State Senate||+4||40||Goal is to break up a GOP trifecta|
|Florida State House||+14||120||Goal is to break up a GOP trifecta|
|Texas State Senate||+4||31||Goal is to break up a GOP trifecta|
|Texas State House||+9||150||Goal is to break up a GOP trifecta|
|Georgia State House||+15 or +16||180||Goal is to break up a GOP trifecta|
|Ohio State House||+12||99||Goal is to break up a GOP trifecta|
There are vacant seats in Wisconsin (1), Louisiana (7), and Georgia (2), which is why the total seats needed in those places varies.
Some of these are pretty tall orders, but as they say, "Go big or go home." At the moment, the Democrats control 14 trifectas to the Republicans' 22. If absolutely everything goes the blue team's way, they would have 20 at the end of 2020 and the GOP would have 18. In any event, once again, the Democrats are definitely not going to go into the next round of redistricting without putting up a heck of a fight. (Z)
This would be very interesting. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) has always been marked for bigger and better things. In fact, his name was bandied about as a possible presidential candidate for the Democrats this year. He passed on that opportunity, but apparently he's thinking the time may have come to climb a rung or two up the ladder, as he confirmed on Monday he's thinking about challenging Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in 2020.
While Markey is quite popular (53% approve, 23% disapprove), that is partly due to the deep-blue hue of Massachusetts. He's vulnerable enough that he's already drawn a pair of primary challengers, and Kennedy would undoubtedly give the Senator all he can handle. Incumbency is generally a big advantage in politics, but that advantage may disappear against an opponent from America's most famous political family. The Republicans don't have a serious challenger, or even much of a bench, given that Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) has declined a run. So, even if the Democratic primary gets bloody, the seat will remain in the Party's hands. (Z)
Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) has had enough, and on Monday he announced his resignation from Congress, effective at the end of September. He explained that he and his wife are expecting a baby in October, who "will need even more love, time, and attention due to complications, including a heart condition."
Undoubtedly, Duffy is telling the truth about his wife and soon-to-be-born baby. That said, only he knows how much more motivated he would have been to make it work if the GOP was still in the majority. In any event, he was quite popular with his constituents, and won easy victories in his last three races, by 22, 24, and 21 points. However, his district is only R+8, and his resignation will trigger a special election. That's close enough that the special election, and then the regular election next year, could get interesting, particularly if the Democrats can come up with a good candidate.
Duffy's retirement is the 12th for the GOP caucus in the House this year, as compared to 3 for the Democrats. This is still within historical norms, but there's also an awful lot of time for more representatives to throw in the towel. (Z)
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got a new job with Fox News last week. And on Monday, she unveiled a new website. It's very slick, professionally produced, and isn't exactly dedicated to showing off her Instagram feed, or her thoughts about her dogs, or her recipe for fried pie. No, it's a campaign website, just waiting for an actual campaign to be plugged in.
There's only one office that Sanders has mentioned an interest in, and only one that makes sense for her. Well, she could run for the House from Arkansas, but she likely thinks of that as a step down. And both of the state's Senate seats are held by Republican men with an iron grip upon them. On the other hand, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) is term-limited as of 2022. So, that's her target. In a complete non-coincidence, the domains SarahforGovernor.com and SarahforArkansas.com were registered on the same day as the domain name of the new website (SarahHuckabeeSanders.com). So, expect to hear much more from the former Trump underling, even if you would prefer not to. (Z)
The football-playing kind, that is. By virtue of their recent Super Bowl championship, the New England Patriots should theoretically be making a visit to the White House sometime this season. The obvious time would be the first week of October, when the team will be in Washington for a game, anyhow. But, according to the New York Times, it's not going to work out because of "scheduling conflicts." Understandable since, after all, there are only 365 days in a year.
The truth is that the visit would have been more than a tad bit embarrassing for Trump. First, because Patriots owner and Trump buddy Robert Kraft got busted in a sex sting recently, accused of paying for massages with a little extra. If the two men were pictured together, it might just remind everyone of Stormy Daniels. Second, because much of the team (i.e., the black players) was not going to show up. The same thing happened with the Patriots the last time they visited, and with the last two World Series winners (the Red Sox and Astros). Clever photography could only do so much to hide the fact that you needed sunglasses to gaze upon the attendees. This year's NCAA women's basketball champs (Baylor) showed up (although it was in doubt for a while), as did the NCAA football champs (Clemson), and the last two Stanley Cup winners (Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins).
On the other hand, last year's Super Bowl champions (the Eagles) saw their invitation revoked, as did the last three NBA champions (the Golden State Warriors x2, and the Toronto Raptors). The most recent NCAA men's Basketball champions (Virginia), like the Patriots, declined an invite due to "scheduling difficulties." The World Cup-winning women's soccer team has not yet gotten an invite, and should not bother checking their mailboxes. In short, what was once a fairly benign custom has become politicized, and we're getting close to a place where Trump is going to get one hockey team and half a baseball team to show up each year, and that's about it. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug26 DNC Votes Down Single-Issue Debates
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