Why Post-Election Messaging Documents Rarely Work

Amy Walter: “After every election, the losing party spends a good chunk of the off-year analyzing why they lost and developing solutions on how not to lose in the future… These documents are meant to unite the party around common themes and ideas and show that they have a path out of the political wilderness.”

“But, more often than not, these documents are an exercise in fighting the last war instead of an appreciation of the fact that no one really knows what the next war is going to look like. Republicans who were worried about their demographic troubles in 2013 could not possibly imagine that the person who would win the GOP nomination and the White House in 2016 would do so while actively flaunting their advice.”

“These documents also tend to miss the most important factor in any messaging: the messenger. A party or a campaign can have a cogent message, but if the messenger isn’t believable, the message itself is worthless.”

Pentagon Briefly Worried Trump Was Declaring War

President Trump’s “abrupt announcement” banning transgender people from the military “seemed to stun military leaders,” even though Trump said in a series of tweets that he consulted with “my generals and military experts,” BuzzFeed reports.

“At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.”

Senate Votes Down ‘Clean Repeal’ Bill

A bill that would just repeal of the Affordable Care Act was voted down by the U.S. Senate, 55 to 45, the New York Times reports.

“The vote underscored the bind that Republican leaders have found themselves in. Repealing the health law without an immediate replacement lacks crucial support among Republicans, but a more comprehensive measure that would have repealed major parts of the law with a ready replacement also came up short on Tuesday night.”

The New York Times has a good tally of the votes.

David Nather: “Leading conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, are making today’s Senate vote on a straight repeal of the Affordable Care Act a ‘key vote’ — meaning they’ll use it in the 2018 election to evaluate senators’ voting records.”

Ex-Manafort Associate Is Tied to Russian Mobsters

The Department of Justice has identified a former business associate of ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort as an “upper-echelon associate of Russian organized crime,” NBC News reports.

“The declaration came in a 115-page filing as part of the government’s case against Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who was once involved in a failed multimillion-dollar deal to buy New York’s Drake Hotel with Manafort, and an important player in the Ukrainian political party for which Manafort worked.”

Inside Trump’s Decision to Ban Transgender Troops

Politico: “House Republicans were planning to pass a spending bill stacked with his campaign promises, including money to build his border wall with Mexico.”

“But an internal House Republican fight over transgender troops was threatening to blow up the bill. And House GOP insiders feared they might not have the votes to pass the legislation because defense hawks wanted a ban on Pentagon-funded sex-change operations — something GOP leaders wouldn’t give them.”

“They turned to Trump, who didn’t hesitate. In the flash of a tweet, he announced that transgender troops would be banned altogether.”

The Decline of Decency

McKay Coppins has a nice profile of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ):

For Flake, one of the most jarring illustrations of Washington’s growing decency deficit came the night of the 2012 State of the Union address. He was seated next to Gabby Giffords, a friend and fellow member of Arizona’s congressional delegation. Giffords, a Democrat, had been shot in the head a year before and was still struggling to recover. Throughout the evening, Flake gently helped her up when she wanted to join the Democrats in a standing ovation—a gesture that meant he was often the only Republican on his feet during Obama’s applause lines. “I started getting texts and emails from people saying, ‘Why are you standing? Why are you standing?’

What It’s Like to Interview Trump

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times is a guest on the new episode of the Longform Podcast and offers great insight into President Trump. She’s known him for years and understands him.

It’s also interesting to hear how she’s kept her sanity over the last six, grueling months covering him:

If I start thinking about it, then I’m not going to be able to just keep doing my job. I’m being as honest as I can — I try not to think about it. If you’re flying a plane and you think about the fact that if the plane blows up in midair you’re gonna die, do you feel like you can really focus as well? So, I’m not thinking about the stakes. This is just my job. This is what we do. Ask me another question.

Brooks Would Vote to Oust McConnell

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is running in a special Senate election in Alabama, said he will not vote to keep Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky as majority leader if he wins the race, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Brooks: “Inside the Republican conference, Mitch McConnell has got to go. He’s the head of the swamp of the U.S. Senate.”

Murkowski Unfazed by Trump Criticism

After President Trump tweeted that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) “really let the Republicans, and our country, down” by voting against the motion to proceed on health care legislation, the Alaska senator told NBC News, “I am in a position where I’m not looking to reelection until 2022.”

She added: “And quite honestly, I don’t think it’s wise to be operating on a daily basis thinking about what a statement or a response that causes you to be fearful of your electoral prospects.”