Nikki Haley Begins to Look Past Trump
How Trump Has Remade the Democratic Party
Gillibrand’s Failure to Launch
Inside Romney’s Trump Strategy
New Hampshire Repeals Death Penalty
Is Trump Bluffing on Tariffs?
• How the Media Reported Mueller's Speech
• Fox News Legal Analyst: Mueller Wanted to Indict Trump but Couldn't
• Trump Is Restructuring His Legal Team
• Perez Raises the Bar for the Third Debate
• Poll: Americans Don't Believe China Is Paying the Tariffs
• National Journal Ranks the Most Competitive Senate Races
• Trump Warns Moore Not to Run for the Senate
• Democrat Jaime Harrison Will Challenge Lindsey Graham
• Not so Fast, Bibi
• Thursday Q&A
Yesterday, (former) special counsel Robert Mueller gave his second and last press conference. The first one was 2 years ago, when he accepted the job. This one was to announce that the job is finished, so he is resigning and closing down the special counsel's office. In short, as far is Mueller is concerned, he's done and out of there.
On his way out the door, however, he raised more than a few questions. He made it abundantly clear that he didn't look carefully at the question of whether Donald Trump obstructed justice, because Justice Dept. guidelines prohibit a sitting president from being indicted (even under seal). So if a president can't be indicted, why bother wasting time even looking into it? However, he did say: "If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so." It is hard to interpret this statement in any way other than that he thinks Donald Trump committed a crime. Mueller's written report basically said the same thing: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state." In effect, Mueller all but instructed Congress to look into the possibility of impeaching Trump.
In case some members of Congress didn't quite get it, Mueller noted that the Constitution "requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing." He didn't say it, but said process is called "impeachment." Perhaps you've heard of it; it's come up on this site once or twice in the past six months or so. And Mueller is not alone in believing that he discovered evidence of a possible crime. A letter with the signatures of over 1,000 former prosecutors and Justice Dept. employees says that absent the Justice Dept. guideline, the President would have been indicted.
Mueller also said that he does not want to make any more public comments (English translation: I'm not going to volunteer to testify before Congress). Of course, Congress can subpoena him and might very well do so. Interestingly, though, there appears to be a pretty big flip-flop underway on this question. Before Wednesday, House Democrats wanted very badly to haul the (former) special counsel before Congress, and Republicans largely said "What for?" Now Democrats have just about all they could have asked for from Mueller, namely a pithy and largely unambiguous declaration that Trump was a bad boy. So, they were full of praise, and pats on the back on Wednesday for a job well done. There was a definite undercurrent that the blue team considers Mueller's work to be finished, and that they have no further need for him (especially since they know he's not going to say anything that's not in the report). On the other hand, Republicans are now very unhappy with Mueller, and might very much like to take their shots at him in hopes of undermining his claims. For example, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) slammed Wednesday's press conference, accused Mueller of "pettifoggery," and demanded that he present himself on Capitol Hill promptly for cross-examination.
This is not to say that the Democrats won't subpoena Mueller—they certainly might. However, they are more likely to turn their sights on his team. There were more than a dozen other prosecutors working with him, and none of them have spoken out thus far. It is certainly possible that under oath, some of them might not answer every question with "That is discussed in the report," the way Mueller would.
Team Trump, of course, was in full damage control mode on Wednesday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to Mueller's remarks by saying: "The report was clear—there was no collusion, no conspiracy—and the Dept. of Justice confirmed there was no obstruction." It is true that AG William Barr indeed said that, but Barr's statement flies in the face of the report's explicit statement that the special counsel has not exonerated the President. Trump, himself, couldn't contain his irritation and sent out this tweet:
Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2019
More than 10 hours later, he followed with this:
How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats? WITCH-HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
There were several other tweets on this subject between those two, covering nearly all of Trump's waking day. This runs contrary to the administration's narrative that the whole thing is no big deal and that the president is not concerned.
Naturally, Democratic presidential candidates aren't buying what Trump is selling, and many of them are sensing that the time has come to get on board the S.S. Impeachment. For example, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted:
Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear: Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 29, 2019
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent this out:
Robert Mueller made himself clear: He expects Congress to exercise its constitutional authority to finish what he couldn't.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) May 29, 2019
We need to begin impeachment hearings. Add your name if you agree: https://t.co/y9Kme6kD1B
And Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend) added this:
This is as close to an impeachment referral as it gets. Robert Mueller could not clear the president, nor could he charge him — so he has handed the matter to Congress, which alone can act to deliver due process and accountability.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) May 29, 2019
Joe Biden's campaign is most of the way there, too, with the comment "Vice President Biden agrees with Speaker Pelosi that no one would relish what would certainly be a divisive impeachment process, but that it may be unavoidable if this Administration continues on its path." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) inched in that direction, as well:
Given the reality that we have a president who believes he is above the law, Congress must continue its investigations. If the House Judiciary Committee deems it necessary, I will support their decision to open an impeachment inquiry. https://t.co/6lTVdcaTXc— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 29, 2019
Wednesday was the first time that Booker, Gillibrand, and Buttigieg spoke out in favor of impeachment, and that Biden and Sanders hinted at cautious assent. Seven other Democratic presidential candidates had already jumped on board before Mueller's remarks on Wednesday, namely Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Julián Castro, Beto O'Rourke, and Mayor Wayne Messam (D-Miramar). That means that, as of Wednesday, half the Democratic field is pro-impeachment (or getting there), including all of the frontrunners.
All of this is going to give Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sleepless nights; with so many Democrats calling for Trump's head on a platter, including most or all of her party's major presidential candidates, the heat will be on. But Pelosi knows that a quick impeachment will be followed by an even quicker Senate trial in which Trump is acquitted with at least 53 "not guilty" votes. Her plan is to hold hearings and try to drive public opinion against Trump. But the President is trying to throw sand in the gears by blocking subpoenas, witnesses, and more. Whether Pelosi can hold her caucus together remains to be seen.
A key player Pelosi has to keep on her team is House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). So far, he is with her. After Mueller finished speaking, Nadler said that "given that Special Counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the President, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies and other wrongdoing of President Trump—and we will do so." Nadler didn't specify when, though. So far, he shares Pelosi's view that holding hearings is the right way to go. The one potential hitch is that if some court rules that his subpoenas are not related to any legitimate congressional activity, he might have to formally start impeachment hearings in order to tie the subpoenas to a House activity specifically sanctioned by the Constitution. In any event, this drama just got much more interesting. (V)
Different media outlets had different takes on Robert Mueller's speech yesterday. Here are the headlines from a few of them.
- NYT: Mueller, in First Comments on Russia Inquiry, Declines to Clear Trump
- WaPo: Mueller's statement highlights key differences with Barr on investigation of President Trump
- Politico: Mueller remarks put Barr back into harsh spotlight
- The Hill: Mueller puts ball in Democrats' court
- Axios: Mueller: "We would have said" if confident Trump did not commit a crime
- WSJ: Robert Mueller Shifts Questions About Trump to Congress
- LA Times: Mueller statement ramps up impeachment pressure on Pelosi and House Democrats
- CNN: Mueller's public remarks ramp up impeachment talk among 2020 Democrats
- CBS: Mueller: If it were clear president committed no crime, "we would have said so"
- NBC: Mueller says charging Trump wasn't an 'option', won't comment beyond his report
Fox News apparently didn't think Mueller's statement was a big deal, so its website didn't run an item on it. Its lead this morning was about some supporter of Bernie Sanders who feels the DNC has its thumb on the scale for Joe Biden. As evidence of this, the supporter said that Sanders' events don't get enough media coverage. (V)
The absence of a Mueller story on the Fox News website notwithstanding, on Fox News TV yesterday, Democrats who want to impeach Donald Trump got some support yesterday from an unlikely source: the cable channel's legal analyst, Andrew Napolitano. Napolitano said that had it not been for the DoJ policy not to indict a sitting president, Trump would have been indicted. When host Stuart Varney asked Napolitano if it was that bad, Napolitano said it was. He also said Mueller's little speech was a parting shot at his former boss, AG William Barr, because Mueller's interpretation of the Mueller report is 180 degrees from Barr's interpretation of it. And Mueller ought to know what the correct interpretation is, since he wrote it. (V)
Up until now, Donald Trump's legal team was heavy on lawyers who are more at home in a TV studio than in a courtroom. The big stars were Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow. But the President now realizes that he needs to start winning court cases. Accordingly, he is hiring attorneys known for their courtroom skills rather than their ability to deflect reporters' questions. The new hires include William Consovoy, Patrick Strawbridge, Marc Mukasey, and Stefan Passantino.
Consovoy's first foray in court was not so successful. He basically told the judge that Congress is not a law-enforcement agency, so it has no authority to investigate Trump. The judge didn't buy it. Consovoy and the others are going to have to come up with better arguments in the future or the courts are going to order Trump to obey the congressional subpoenas. Though actually, better arguments might not do it, especially if Team Trump loses a whole bunch of cases with not-so-good arguments. (V)
DNC Chairman Tom Perez set the bar for getting on the stage for the first and second Democratic primary debates incredibly low (not quite "do you have a pulse?" but close). Polling at 1% in three approved polls or having 65,000 donors will (probably) do the trick. Yesterday, however, he announced that to get on stage in September for the third debate, a candidate has to be polling at or above 2% in four approved polls between June 28 and Aug. 28 and has to have 130,000 donors. Note that for debates one and two, a candidate had to meet only one of the criteria. To be allowed on stage in September, the candidate has to meet both the polling and donor criteria, with the number of polls, the amount of support in those polls, and the number of donors all increasing.
Perez is obviously tiptoeing here. He doesn't want the supporters of any candidate to go off and sulk because their candidate didn't make the cut. On the other hand, having 12 debates with 20 candidates doesn't let the voters see enough of any of them to make an informed choice. So his plan is to give all the candidates plenty of advance notice that they better start polling better and getting more donors. It is a little hard for a candidate to whine: "It's not fair. It's true nobody is planning to vote for me and nobody is giving me any money, but I really want to be president, so it's not fair."
The third debate is now scheduled for Sept. 12. If more than 10 candidates qualify, there will be a second debate on Sept. 13. Perez hasn't said how the candidates will be split over the two nights if more than 10 qualify. It is clear that Perez hopes the field clears quickly so that only serious candidates get on stage for debates 3-12, but he (obviously) hasn't expressed a preference for any candidate. (V)
Donald Trump has repeatedly said that China is paying the tariffs he has imposed. Not only is that a lie, but it is a lie that Americans don't believe. A Monmouth University poll shows that 62% of Americans think that American consumers will bear more of the costs of Trump's tariffs than Chinese producers. An equal number are worried that the tariffs could hurt the economy.
Technically, when a U.S. importer—say, Walmart—buys a boatload of products from China, it is the importer who pays the tariff, not the producer. When the importer sells directly to consumers, it almost always raises the price of the goods to compensate for the tariff. Walmart specifically has said it will raise prices when it can't find alternative supplies at lower prices. Other stores are likely to follow suit. (V)
The National Journal has issued its first ranking of the Senate seats most likely to flip. Here is a summary of the top races, starting with the most competitive.
- Alabama - Doug Jones (D): Doug Jones won a special election in 2017
against child molester Roy Moore. If Moore gets the Republican nomination again (see below), Jones
might just win again. Otherwise, in a state Donald Trump won by nearly 30 points, Jones is a dead
- Colorado - Cory Gardner (R): Colorado is getting bluer by the year
and Democratic turnout is sure to be heavy in 2020. This puts one-term senator Cory Gardner in a bad
place. If he starts letting his inner moderate show, he probably won't get many Democratic votes
anyway, and he could lose some votes on the far right to fringe candidates. But if he goes all out
for Trump, Democrats will clobber him. The Democrats' only problem is that they don't have a
candidate yet. If former governor John Hickenlooper gives up his pointless quest for the White
House, the nomination is his for the taking. If he doesn't, there could be a multiway primary with
- Arizona - Martha McSally (R): Martha McSally has a problem. The
people of Arizona told her last year they don't want her in the Senate. Now she has to convince them
to change their minds. To make it worse, she lost in 2018 to a bisexual woman who used to be a
fire-breathing liberal who worked for Ralph Nader in 2000. In 2020, McSally will face Mark Kelly, a naval aviator who fought in the Gulf
War and later became an astronaut. In a state full of veterans, he is going to be a tough nut for
McSally to crack, and the 2020 electorate is likely to be even worse for her than the 2018
electorate was. If that were not enough, Kelly's wife is Gabby Giffords, who used to represent the
Tucson suburbs in the House before she was shot and is still very popular there.
- North Carolina - Thom Tillis (R): North Carolina is edging toward
swing state status and might end up like Virginia in a few cycles. Tillis realizes this, and doesn't
hug Donald Trump as closely as some southern Republicans. This has resulted in a wealthy
right-winger, Garland Tucker III, challenging him in the primary. Even if he can win the primary,
Tillis is likely to emerge bloodied and broke. His only consolation is that the Democrats don't have
a clear candidate yet, and could possibly also have a nasty primary. North Carolina Senate races are
often very expensive and outside money will pour in.
- Maine - Susan Collins (R): Maine is a relatively blue state, but
Susan Collins is personally popular there. Or make that "was personally popular there." Her vote for
confirming Brett Kavanaugh sparked outrage among Democrats, who raised $3.8 million for her (as yet
unknown) challenger. One possibility is Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D). If she runs, women who
want a female senator will have an option other than Collins.
- Georgia - David Perdue (R): If Stacey Abrams had decided to run, she
would have been a nightmare for David Perdue, but she stayed out, possibly in the hope of being some
other Democrat's veep. The Democrats don't have anyone else of Abrams' caliber, but Columbus Mayor
Teresa Tomlinson or business executive Sarah Riggs Amico might make him sweat at least a little. And
it's still possible that Abrams jumps in.
- Iowa - Joni Ernst (R): Donald Trump won Iowa convincingly in 2016,
but his trade war is hurting farmers there, which could lead some of them to stay home or maybe even
to vote for Democrats. On the other hand, Joni Ernst is personally very popular and might be able to
survive even a blue wave. What is definitely working in her favor is that no top-tier Democrat has
appeared so far.
- Michigan - Gary Peters (D): Donald Trump won Michigan by a hair, but
2018 was a bad year there for Republicans. Democrats won the governor's mansion and held their
Senate seat, so Gary Peters shouldn't be in too much trouble. The Republicans do have an ace in the
hole, though, with John James, who ran against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in 2018 and didn't lose
too badly. The trouble is that Trump wants James to run for a competitive House seat, not for the
Senate. If James does that, Peters is safe.
- Texas - John Cornyn (R): Beto O'Rourke made a decent showing against
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018, but Texas is not a purple state by any means, at least not yet.
Besides, John Cornyn is far more popular than Cruz and Trump will be on the ballot in 2020. Cornyn
also has $7 million in the bank already. Democrats are hoping that M.J. Hegar, who ran a good, but
not good enough, House race last year will take him on, but Cornyn is still the heavy favorite.
- New Hampshire - Jeanne Shaheen (D) If Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) had decided to take on Jeanne Shaheen, she would have a tough race on her hands. But he decided to run for governor again, so she's basically safe because there is no other candidate in sight to oppose her.
Of these races, the top six or seven might be competitive, but the last few are not likely to change parties. (V)
Yesterday, Donald Trump Sr. joined Donald Trump Jr. in telling Roy Moore to buzz off. The former judge and child molester is seriously considering another run at Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat, which Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is keeping warm. Trump (and the rest of the GOP) absolutely do not want Moore to try because they are all afraid he would lose to Jones again, just as he did in the 2017 special election. Trump said the consequences of Moore running again would be "devastating." Trump Jr.'s opinion, which we noted yesterday, was: "You are literally the only candidate who could lose a GOP seat in pro-Trump, pro-USA ALABAMA."
All of the Trumps, as well as all the Republicans in the Senate, are scared stiff that Moore will run, get the nomination, and lose again. Polls show that Moore is currently leading the primary race, even though he hasn't announced. The problem is that it will be hard for anyone to stop Moore, short of shooting him. Trump could offer him a cabinet job, an ambassadorship, or make him head of a special task force on child molestation, but it is very unlikely Moore would accept, knowing that he has about a 50% shot at becoming a senator. (V)
The former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Jaime Harrison, has announced that he will run for the Democratic nomination for the Senate. If he gets the nomination, he will face Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in 2020. So far, nobody else has entered the race, so Harrison has a pretty good chance of getting the nod.
South Carolina fundamentally has two parties: the white people's party (nominally called the Republicans) and the black people's party (nominally called the Democrats). Since there are more white people than black people in South Carolina, the former pretty much always wins. Graham used to oppose Trump, but of late has decided that is a bad strategy and might lead to a primary challenge, so he is now about as Trumpy as you can be.
It is not clear why Harrison is running, since he has no chance of winning. Possibly he wants some statewide name recognition so he can run for the seat of Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), when Clyburn (78) retires or dies. Clyburn represents SC-06, which includes much of Columbia, Charleston, and nearly all of the rural Black Belt, and is a majority black (57%). (V)
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had until midnight (local time) Wednesday to form a new government. He couldn't pull it off, largely because of a dispute between members of his coalition over whether yeshiva students should be subject to the Israeli draft. In view of Netanyahu's failure, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and to hold new elections. Folks in Israel will head back to the polls on September 17.
This surely does not work to Netanyahu's favor. In the last elections (seven weeks ago), a fair number of Israeli Arabs boycotted in protest—they may not do so the next time. Further, the PM's upcoming corruption trial lingered over the last election. It's really going to do so in September, since it will be just three weeks before the trial gets underway. And even if the next round of elections turns out the same as the previous one, there is probably room for one of Netanyahu's rivals to take a shot at the throne. Add it all up, and it's very possible Donald Trump is going to lose his closest ally among the leaders of the world. (Z)
With (nearly) a week of news in the books, Thursday's questions always seem to be very interesting.
How did Robert Mueller come to the conclusion that charging Donald Trump with a crime would be "unconstitutional"? My understanding is that it is merely a policy/regulation of the DOJ that the president is too important to be charged with a crime. A.S., Black Mountain, NC
First, just so everyone is on the same page, here are Mueller's exact words:
A president cannot be charged with a crime while in office. That is unconstitutional. Charging the president with a crime was not an option we could consider. We were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse someone of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.
He did not mean things quite as literally as it sounds, since, as you note, it's a DoJ policy (and not a clause within the Constitution) that is currently protecting Trump from indictment. What Mueller was trying to communicate is that the Constitution provided him with no means to pursue charges against the President, since: (1) It makes impeachment the prerogative of Congress, and (2) It makes a DoJ employee like him subordinate to his bosses and their rules. The other thing that Mueller was trying to make clear is that it is the rules that saved Trump, and not the absence of guilt. This runs directly contrary to what William Barr claimed, namely that the decision not to charge Trump was based on the merits of the case, and had nothing to do with DoJ policy.
I believe that many Republicans are holding out until after the ability for them to get primaried is over. After that, they may feel an anti-Trump message is better for them, if they wish to stay in office. Do you see the tide turning at that point? When will primaries for senators be complete? M.F., Calgary, Canada
This is certainly possible, but there are two things that would make this strategy risky. The first is that if they go anti-Trump, and he wins reelection, they will be in his doghouse for the remainder of his term. The second is that going anti-Trump could cause the base to rebel. They are not likely to vote Democratic, of course, but they could vote Libertarian, or else leave that part of the ballot blank. So, if this is going to happen, it would likely require some sort of supervening event, like that it becomes public that Trump is in hock to the Russians. This would afford a would-be apostate some cover.
The primary dates for Senate vary on a state-by-state basis, and many of the dates have not yet been set. However, the last Senate nominees won't be known until sometime in August (when Arizona makes its choices).
My simple question is this: How can people actually argue Donald Trump will get reelection with approval ratings like the ones reported here? P.C., Portland, OR
At risk of being glib: Because he already did. His numbers are not especially different now from what they were in 2016. In the two weeks before the election, there were ten different polls that measured his favorability ratings, and his numbers were 33, 35, 36, 38, 43, 33, 42, 34, 38, and 41, for an average of 37.3. Meanwhile, here are his last 10 non-Rasmussen approval numbers: 44, 44, 41, 44, 41, 38, 42, 44, 43, and 40, for an average of 42.1. Winning the popular vote is not likely, but at the moment, eking out another Electoral College victory is still within reach.
The link you provided also mentions a number of scholars and prognosticators who have "done their analysis" and are predicting a Trump victory in 2020. We would like to take this opportunity to point out what nonsense this is. First of all, if the election was being held today, it would be pretty close, the kind of thing that could be decided by whether or not it's raining in Milwaukee. You can't make confident predictions in those scenarios. Second, there are still almost 18 months for all sorts of known unknowns (impeachment, tax returns, etc.) and unknown unknowns to reveal themselves. Third, the Democratic candidate isn't even known yet. So, please disregard any so-called predictions.
If Donald Trump had his choice, which of the Democrats would he choose as his opponent, do you think? W.M., Niles, OH
Interesting question! Trump certainly has his weaknesses, but his political instincts are actually pretty good. Just so we're not comparing apples and oranges, we're going to take candidates unlikely to qualify for the third Democratic debate (see above) off the table. So, no Wayne Messam or Mike Gravel or Marianne Williamson.
If we imagine that the recently declared Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) pulls it together, and mounts a serious enough campaign to meet our "qualification," then he would probably be the pick. Trump knows the Mayor (and his weaknesses) well, he's pretty lefty and non-mainstream, and he's error-prone. If we disqualify de Blasio for being too fringy, then the pick would probably be Kirsten Gillibrand. Trump knows her very well, too, her campaign isn't picking up steam, and the President would probably convince himself (not unreasonably) that she's kind of like Hillary v2.0. And he did ok against Hillary v1.0.
Trump is a total disaster. Even my Trumpian friends are starting to acknowledge it (not that they will vote for a Democrat the next time!). When history looks back on this, though, and how the system "broke," will historians really blame Trump for this sh** pile, or will they blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, to a somewhat lesser extent, former speaker Paul Ryan, along with all the GOP House and Senate members that lacked cojones? Personally I believe these folks could have reined in Trump at the very beginning and he would have ended up a "normal" if somewhat incompetent President. Instead their support (or lack of opposition) is what REALLY broke the system. I would really like their names dragged through the muck of history and their offspring and grand offspring to have to deal with people constantly asking them "What the HELL was wrong with your dad (or granddad) anyway"? K.W., Vacaville, CA
Since (Z) is the resident historian, this comes from him. And he hates to disappoint, but it's not likely that any of these folks will get the "blame," per se. First of all, historians are trained not to be judgmental, as much as is possible. Second (and in contrast to the historians of, say, 100 years ago), we generally tend to understand major historical developments as being the product of underlying forces, not the actions of key people. To put that metaphorically, folks like John C. Calhoun, and Benito Mussolini, and Donald Trump did not create the wave, they merely surfed it. This is particularly true with folks who could be described as "reactionary." Many times, (Z) has taught Civil War history, and he's never once blamed the war on Calhoun (or Jeff Davis, or Alexander Stephens). No, he blames the war on the divergence between two different economic systems, with Calhoun & Co. serving merely as avatars for their particular side of the conflict. And third, when it comes to the teaching of history, there generally isn't room for a large cast of dramatis personae (too hard for students to follow). So, one or two people generally get to serve as proxy for all of the players in the era in question.
What this adds up to is that the lecture on early 21st century America in, say, 75 years, is going to talk about how the early decades of the century were a time of conflict and turmoil that eventually produced the famous (and possibly infamous) Donald Trump. And Trump will serve as exemplar for his party and his political faction. Even though McConnell & Co. deserve a lot of responsibility for what's happening in Washington these days, probably more so than Trump, it's just too difficult in a classroom setting to get into the weeds of who was who, and how the players all fit together.
You mentioned that the Texas state legislature only convenes every other year, as does Nevada's. Are there other states with biennial legislatures? Do the lower houses have two year terms, or does an office holder serve four years? M.M., San Diego, CA
There are four states that do it this way, and each (coincidentally) holds the meeting in odd years: Texas and Nevada, as you note, along with Montana and North Dakota. What these four states have in common is that they are big, and the population either is (or was) very sparse and very widely dispersed. And so, the custom was adopted to spare the legislators of the 19th century the need to make lengthy (and often dangerous) trips any more than was absolutely necessary.
In three of these four states, senators serve four-year terms and representatives serve two-year terms. In North Dakota, members of both houses serve four-year terms.
Note that one might also make a case for add New Mexico to the list; in even years, the legislature meets only to pass the state budget. They also follow the 4 year/2 year model.
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May29 SCOTUS Sends Mixed Messages on Abortion
May29 McConnell to Ginsburg: Don't Die
May29 Elaine Chao Turns Out to Be Kinda Swampy
May29 The States of the Democratic Field
May29 Roy Moore Plans to Run
May29 Texas Secretary of State Falls on His Sword
May28 Trump Sides With Kim Again
May28 Bolton Under Attack
May28 Judge Halts Border Wall Construction
May28 Trump's Clumsy Legal Strategy
May28 Bernie Sanders Wants to Be President
May28 The War Against Climate Science Is in Full Swing
May28 Voter Registration Meets Voter Suppression
May28 With Women Candidates, GOP Not Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
May28 Faithless Electors Hit With Fines
May27 In Japan, Trump Plays Golf and Supports Kim Jong-Un
May27 Deutsche Bank Case Will Be Expedited
May27 Some Candidates Are Betting the Farm on the Early States
May27 SCOTUS Blocks Gerrymandering Rulings
May27 Perez Is Scared Witless of the One Percenters
May27 Buttigieg Is Pushing for a Massive Q2 Money Haul
May27 Republicans Have Spent $4 Million at Trump Properties
May27 Trump Takes Steps that Hurt His Base--Again
May27 Facebook Will Not Remove Doctored Pelosi Video
May27 EU Elections Go Against Trend, Sort Of
May27 Monday Q&A
May24 D.C. Appeals Court Will Expedite Ruling on Trump's Accountants
May24 Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?
May24 Spring Storm Was Apparently a Summer Breeze
May24 Another Day, Another Indictment
May24 Secretaries of State Give Trump Headaches
May24 Democrats: State of the Race
May24 Alabamians Want More Moore
May24 Tillis a Top Target...for Republicans
May24 The Backlash Continues...
May24 ...And it Claims Another Victim
May23 Trump Storms Out of Meeting with Pelosi and Schumer
May23 Judge Allows Deutsche Bank Subpoena to Stand
May23 New York State Is about to Become a Problem for Trump
May23 Schiff and Department of Justice Reach Agreement
May23 Trump and Biden in a Dead Heat in Florida
May23 Poll: Enough about Russia Already
May23 Mnuchin Wants to Find Out Who Wrote the Memo on Trump's Tax Returns
May23 Investigators Can't Tell If Northam Was in Blackface Photo
May23 Thursday Q&A
May22 Who Will Talk To Congress?
May22 Impeachment Pressure on Democratic Leadership Increases
May22 Trump Appears to Be Losing the Trade War
May22 Trump Also Appears to Be Losing the Financial Secrets War