November, 2015

Politicians Can Now Say Anything They Want

Matt Taibbi: “Politicians are quickly learning that they can say just about anything and get away with it. Along with vindication, apology and suffering, there now exists a fourth way forward for the politician spewing whoppers: Blame the backlash on media bias and walk away a hero.”

“Trump, meanwhile, has been through more of these beefs than one can count, even twice blabbing obvious whoppers in live televised debates… In all of these cases, the candidates doubled or tripled down when pestered by reporters and fact-checkers and insisted they’d been victimized by biased media.”

Big GOP Donors Have No Plans to Take on Trump

Washington Post: “Most of the party’s financiers and top strategists are sitting on the sidelines. Many are reluctant to spend money against Trump after watching others fumble as they tried to handle his counterpunches. Others, citing past elections, remain confident that the race will eventually pivot away from him early next year.”

“The political network backed by the billionaire Koch brothers has no plans to take Trump on. American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by strategist Karl Rove, is steering clear and focusing on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton instead. Right to Rise, the super PAC backing Jeb Bush, is not gearing up to attack Trump either. And major Republican donors such as hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and the Ricketts family have shown no interest in supporting the few organizations trying to undercut him.”

How to Talk Politics at Thanksgiving

Brendan Nyhan: “It’s time for that annual American holiday tradition: awkward political conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table. With the 2016 presidential primary campaign in full swing and public interest on the rise, the odds are good that relatives will share their thoughts with you about why one candidate will win or how another is going to destroy America. I can’t tell you how to keep your family away from sensitive topics, but here are brief answers to some frequently asked questions about current events and the 2016 race.”

The Only Way to Stop Donald Trump

David Frum: “Until he read Ann Coulter’s book this spring, Trump seemed to have been a perfectly conventional business Republican on immigration. In a 2012 interview, in fact, he blamed Romney’s loss on taking a too-tough line on the issue”

“Attacking Donald Trump as untrustworthy on stopping illegal immigration—or having super PACs do it —will stick in the craw of elected Republicans. They are, for the most part, in full agreement with the 2012-vintage Trump on the issue. But it’s their only hope. Of course, it raises the awkward but all-important question: What would they do instead to address a voter concern that until now they have ignored or disdained?”

Budget Deal Faces Big Obstacles

“Congressional leaders face several hurdles to getting a budget deal done by the Dec. 11 deadline, including a fight over health funding that is holding up the omnibus spending package,” The Hill reports.

“There’s also a battle brewing over dozens of policy riders aimed at Wall Street and environmental regulations that Republicans insist should be included in the legislation but Democrats warn could lead to a government shutdown. Some Republicans also want to add language blocking President Obama’s refugee resettlement program, which would be a non-starter with Democrats, but GOP leaders are reluctant at this point to pursue that path.”

Different Views on America’s Highest Honor

Washington Post: “Few official acts reveal more about an individual president than the Presidential Medal of Freedom designations. While the general categories have remained fairly constant since President John F. Kennedy established the modern version of the honor in 1963 — public servants, creative artists and athletes are traditionally well represented — the specific choices often pose a study in contrasts.”

“The demographic differences between Presidents Obama and George W. Bush’s honorees, for example, are quite telling. African Americans represented roughly the same portion of each man’s designations—18 percent of Obama’s, compared to 17 percent for Bush —but women have made up 36 percent of the medal’s recipients under the current president versus 15 percent during Bush’s time in office. In a similar vein, Obama has awarded the honor to a higher proportion of Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans and gay and lesbian Americans than W did.”

Clinton Promises Not to Say ‘Illegal Immigrants’

Hillary Clinton addressed criticism of her use of the phrase “illegal immigrants” in a Facebook chat hosted by the Spanish-language television network Telemundo, Yahoo News reports.

Said Clinton: “That was a poor choice of words. As I’ve said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers. They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected.”

Early States Flooded with TV Ads

“For residents of the four early voting states seeking respite this holiday weekend from the political rantings of a charged relative, the traditional comfort of television might not provide much of an escape,” the New York Times reports.

“Presidential campaigns and the groups supporting them have booked almost $5 million in advertising time during Thanksgiving week in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, according to an analysis by Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks political advertising.”

Kentucky Restores Voting Rights to 180K Felons

Outgoing Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) “has signed an executive order to restore the right to vote and hold public office to thousands of non-violent felons who’ve served out their sentences,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

“Kentucky was one of four states that did not automatically restore voting rights to felons once they completed all the terms of their sentences. Around 180,000 in Kentucky have served their sentences yet remain banned from casting ballots.”

Why Trump Will Be Very Hard to Take Down

Rick Klein: “He’s gone from thousands of cheering Muslims in New Jersey to hundreds of people now tell him he’s right. He had his chief rival say he saw the same thing on TV, only to say a few hours later that he actually didn’t. Donald Trump’s latest addition to his campaign highlight reel has the hallmarks of his political style. This was a tall tale with a purpose, calibrated to a moment of jitters and anti-Muslim fears and sentiments. Trump, naturally, isn’t apologizing or acknowledging that what he said he saw did not in fact occur as he describes it.”

“It now appears unlikely that any one comment or set of comments will unravel Trump. Even in this instance, his supporters grant him a general sense of being honest if not entirely truthful… As the anti-Trump forces gather, that’s a more formidable opponent than the mogul himself. Voters view him as speaking truth to power – and that means skepticism of anyone or anything seeking to stand in his way, even when he’s telling stories that are simply not accurate.”