December, 2017

San Juan Mayor Slams Trump as ‘Disaster-In-Chief’

On the 100-day mark since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz told ABC News that the federal response to the storm was inadequate and blamed President Trump.

Said Cruz: “He was disrespectful to the Puerto Rican people, he was disrespectful to the American people who were leaving their homes to come help us here. Where he needed to be a commander-in-chief, he was a disaster-in-chief. President Trump does not embody the values of the good-hearted American people that have make sure that we are not forgotten.”

Run, Mitt, Run

Dana Millbank: “The 2012 Republican presidential nominee has been reluctant to announce a primary challenge to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Republican senator in history. But America needs Romney to step up, to restore dignity to the Senate — and to save the country from the embarrassment Hatch has become.”

“Hatch, long the picture of conservative rectitude, was once a conscientious legislator, even partnering with Ted Kennedy when he thought poor kids were getting a raw deal. But Hatch, the Senate president pro tempore, has undergone a grotesque transformation this year, his 84th on earth and 42nd in the Senate. He has become chief enabler of and cheerleader for President Trump.”

Quote of the Day

“As we count down to the new year, we get to reflect and prepare for what’s ahead. For all the bad news that seemed to dominate our collective consciousness, there are countless stories from this year that remind us what’s best about America.”

— Barack Obama, on Twitter.

Why Trump Is a Consequential President

Michael Grunwald: “The most consequential aspect of President Trump—like the most consequential aspect of Candidate Trump—has been his relentless shattering of norms: norms of honesty, decency, diversity, strategy, diplomacy and democracy, norms of what presidents are supposed to say and do when the world is and isn’t watching. As I keep arguing in these periodic Trump reviews, it’s a mistake to describe his all-caps rage-tweeting or his endorsement of an accused child molester or his threats to wipe out ‘Little Rocket Man’ as unpresidential, because he’s the president. He’s by definition presidential. The norms he’s shattered are by definition no longer norms. His erratic behavior isn’t normal, but it’s inevitably becoming normalized, a predictably unpredictable feature of our political landscape.”

“It’s how we live now, checking our phones in the morning to get a read on the president’s mood. The American economy is still strong, and he hasn’t started any new wars, so pundits have focused a lot of their hand-wringing on the effect his norm-shattering will have on future leaders, who will be able to cite the Trump precedent if they want to hide their tax returns or use their office to promote their businesses or fire FBI directors who investigate them. But Trump still has three years left in his term. And the norms he’s shattered can’t constrain his behavior now that he’s shattered them.”

Democratic Senators Run Left

“It used to be that Bernie Sanders was an ideological lone ranger in the Senate. Now, a whole host of potential presidential hopefuls are racing to represent the liberal grass roots on their issues of the day — and pulling the Democratic Party’s center of gravity further to the left,” Politico reports.

“The trend was apparent throughout the fall among the half-dozen Democratic senators drawing the loudest buzz for 2020 — aside from Sanders (I-VT), the group includes Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).”

“First they flocked to Sanders’ single-payer health care proposal. And then, almost in unison, they adopted two other stands popular among the Democratic base: Refusing to vote for any budget plan that didn’t include help for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and calling for Donald Trump’s resignation over sexual harassment claims leveled against him last year by multiple women.”

Senators Scrap Russia Trip After Kremlin Snubs Shaheen

“Two Republican senators have called off a planned trip to Russia after the Kremlin denied a visa to a Democratic colleague, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen,” Politico reports.

“Shaheen, an outspoken backer of a Russia sanctions bill that Congress approved overwhelmingly earlier this year, had been scheduled to visit Russia along with GOP colleagues Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and John Barasso of Wyoming. But a Shaheen spokesman said the senator believes the Kremlin has placed her under a travel sanction, prohibiting her visit.”

One Nation, Divided Under Trump

David Ignatius: “The shrinking space for governance worries me at year-end. The problem begins at the top: President Trump is the most unpopular president in modern times. He’s less admired than his predecessor, Barack Obama. He misreads the nation: The more divisive Trump has become — the more he picks at the nation’s scabs — the less the public likes him, according to polls. Yet Trump persists, playing to his base, with harmful consequences for the country.”

“Trump is a defiant nationalist, and perhaps he hopes to be a unifier. But as this year ends, the numbers tell us that he has brought a level of division and disarray that should worry even his most passionate supporters.”

Why Republicans May Face a Turnout Problem In 2018

David Wasserman: “Trump’s upset was powered by white voters without college degrees. The problem for Republicans? Voters without college degrees have a dismal track record of voting in off-year elections. This is similar to the problem Obama had: His base of young and non-white voters also had a terrible history of showing up in off years. That didn’t change after he took office, and it cost Democrats dearly in 2010 and 2014.”

“Simply put, 2018 is on track to be the “Year of the Angry White College Graduate.” I’d estimate the college-educated share of the electorate will be around 43 or 44 percent next year, up from 39 percent in 2016. That’s dreadful news for Republicans: These voters have indicated the highest intensity of opposition to Trump in polls, and we’ve already seen them power Democrats to victory in Virginia and Alabama.”

Trump Fires Entire AIDS/HIV Council

Washington Blade: “With no explanation, the White House has terminated members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS amid widespread discontent with President Trump’s approach to the epidemic.”

“After six members of PACHA resigned in June, the White House on Wednesday terminated the remaining 16 members without explanation via a letter from FedEx.”

Lessons From the Saturday Night Massacre

Walter Shapiro reminds us that President Nixon held on to power for nine months after he fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate break in.

“The actual history of the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre and the weeks that followed serves as a reminder of the many twists in the road to Nixon’s political demise. While the rule of law ultimately prevailed, it was a closer call than many now remember.”

“The larger historical lessons begin with a stark warning to Trump not to interfere with a Justice Department investigation. But they also include the self-defeating naiveté of liberals who believe that Trump is fast on the way to impeachment and conviction.”

Miller’s Influence Grows in the White House

Mike Allen: “Guess who’s likely to stick around for all four or eight years, and will be empowered in 2018? Stephen Miller, the true-believer senior policy adviser, who trumps Trump on hardline immigration views — and may outlast almost everyone.”

“The two issues Miller cares and knows most about, immigration and trade, will be front and center. And Miller channels (and believes) Trump campaign rhetoric more than anyone internally.”

“Although some of Miller’s allies speculate that he could one day wind up as chief of staff, he’s seen more as an advocate and adviser than manager or leader. He works super-hard, but doesn’t delegate.”