July, 2015

An Inside Look at Mark Sanford

The New York Times runs a fantastic review of The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics by Barton Swaim.

“Mr. Swaim is so talented a writer, and has such an eye for a telling detail, that you suspect you could put him in any workplace — chicken-processing plant, airport sunglass emporium, stoner skate park — and he would make it come alive in the best possible way. He happens to have great material in Governor Sanford, as demanding, disorganized, dissatisfied, conceited, odd, bullying and cheap a boss as a reader could hope for.”

‘Total Confusion’ at Fox News Over Debate

The polls that Fox News will use to determine participants in the first GOP presidential debate “remains an open question and a source of controversy,” New York Magazine reports.

“In the absence of a clear answer from the network, advisers for both Kasich and Perry have taken to lobbying Ailes and Fox executives to use polls that put their guy over the line.”

Said one network personality: “There’s total confusion about all of it. The Second Floor is making it up as they go along.”

The Awkward Contradiction in Scott Walker’s Campaign

For Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), “there’s something awkward about the Harley-Davidson motorcycles that he has been posing on at presidential campaign stops: each one bears a sticker on its frame that reads ‘Union made in the USA,'” Reuters reports.

“Walker has made the iconic American brand a centerpiece of his campaign kick-off tour this month, visiting four dealerships and sometimes showing off his own 2003 Harley Road King as he seeks to harness its appeal to older white male voters. But there is another side to Harley that the Republican candidate has been less vocal about — it is a leading example of a successful company that has a strong relationship with labor unions.

Trump’s Campaign for Relevance

Matt Bai: “Trump himself doesn’t worry me. That’s because I don’t think for a moment that he wants the job. What Trump wants — craves, actually — is relevance. The man has a clinical phobia of obsolescence. He puts his name on every building he owns just to make sure people will have to speak it out loud.”

“He has no plan for actual governance and no ambition to actually govern. It’s possible that his daily barrage of insults and diatribes, each more outrageous than the last, is really a kind of self-sabotage, as if he’s trying to figure out how awful he can be before the show starts to lose viewers. Even if Trump managed to get the nomination (which he won’t), the broader electorate would recoil at the things he says, and he’s probably counting on it.”

“What does worry me is that Trump really is a proven visionary. He’s brilliant at seeing the next ego-leveraging opportunity. He’s the first interloping network star to jolt a presidential race, but no way is he the last… What Trump is doing, and it’s a twisted kind of public service, is showing all of us how easy it is now to successfully manipulate a media in economic distress and a presidential process that caters, more and more, to an ever-dwindling bloc of extremists on either side.”

Trump’s Challenge in Next Week’s Debate

New York Times: “The most pressing question that Donald Trump could face next week in the first debate of the 2016 presidential race may not be about Iran or immigration, but this: Can he deploy enough adjectives (‘huge!’), superlatives (‘the worst!’) and invectives (‘loser!’) for him to use up his time without being challenged successfully on the substance of policy?”

“Mr. Trump could come away a winner if he makes cogent points without sounding too hostile, presenting himself as more of a serious-minded, anti-establishment voice in a primary crowded with career Republican politicians. But there are risks for him if he turns the debate stage in Cleveland into another episode of the reality show his campaign has sometimes resembled.”

Wonk Wire: Who are Trump supporters? Uneducated whites.

Get Ready for a September to Remember

First Read: “Just look at what Congress (and the president) will have to deal with when Congress returns in September from its August recess. There’s the Iran deal, the Highway Trust Fund and, oh, a possible government shutdown over Planned Parenthood… This a real test for the GOP-led Congress, which has racked up some minor bipartisan victories (trade authority, Medicare doc-fix). Given that they know control both the House and Senate, Republicans won’t have Harry Reid to blame anymore.”

“Folks, this is a slow-moving train wreck about to happen. Can anyone recall House Speaker Boehner calling any Harry Reid legislation a ‘piece of shit’, as he called Mitch McConnell’s Senate highway bill? He said a lot of bad things about some Senate Democratic legislation but that harsh? Folks, this ain’t gonna be pretty. And with a handful of 2016ers in the senate needing to show spark, it will be a political September to remember.

Who Will Make the Cut for the GOP Debate?

First Read has the latest polling averages from the last five national polls — Quinnipiac, CNN, WaPo/ABC, Fox, USA Today/Suffolk — to see which Republicans will be on stage at the first GOP debate:

  1. Trump: 19.4%
  2. Bush: 13%
  3. Walker: 11.8%
  4. Rubio: 6.2%
  5. Paul 6%
  6. Huckabee 5.4%
  7. Cruz: 5.2%
  8. Carson 5.2%
  9. Christie 3.2%
  10. Kasich 2.8%

Not making the cut:

  1. Perry 2.2%
  2. Santorum 1.4%
  3. Jindal 1.4%
  4. Fiorina 0.8%
  5. Pataki 0.6%
  6. Graham 0.4%
  7. Gilmore 0.0%

Republicans May Force Shutdown Over Abortion

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Republicans “should do everything they can” to eliminate federal money for Planned Parenthood — “even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall,” Politico reports.

In addition, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.”

“It’s a potentially ominous sign for GOP leaders desperate to avoid another shutdown debacle. While Cruz may be radioactive in the Senate GOP conference after calling his leader a liar, his analysis of next week’s vote has merit: With Democrats vowing to block the measure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t be able to get the 60 votes he needs to advance the bill next week, a result that likely won’t satisfy a conservative base itching for confrontation over abortion.”

Cruz Calls Obama a Sponsor of Terrorism

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is essentially financing terrorism and didn’t back down after the president called his comments “outrageous,” Politico reports.

Said Cruz: “If this deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism. Billions of dollars under control of this administration will flow into the hands of jihadists who will use that money to murder Americans, to murder Israelis, to murder Europeans.”

Deal Highlights Complicated Clinton Ties

The Wall Street Journal reports on “an unusual intervention” by Hillary Clinton while Secretary of State on behalf of UBS which was being used by the IRS to get the identities of Americans with secret bank accounts.

“From that point on, UBS’s engagement with the Clinton family’s charitable organization increased… from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014… And it paid former president Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions… making UBS his biggest single corporate source of speech income disclosed since he left the White House.”

“There is no evidence of any link between Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the case and the bank’s donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, or its hiring of Mr. Clinton. But her involvement with UBS is a prime example of how the Clintons’ private and political activities overlap.”