June 21, 2019

2020 Update

Sen. Elizabeth Warren moved up to a second-place tie with Sen. Bernie Sanders nationally, but both remain behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who also tops the list of who people think would beat President Donald Trump, according to a new poll from Monmouth University.” NBC

At a fundraiser on Tuesday, “while stressing the importance of ‘civility’ in politics, [Joe] Biden recalled how he’d worked productively alongside two segregationist senators, including the virulent racist Sen. James Eastland (D-MS). ‘At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything,’ Biden said. ‘Today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy.’” Vox

Also on Tuesday, “President Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign… by presenting himself as the same political insurgent who shook up the Washington establishment four years ago and who is now a victim of an attempted ouster by Democrats.” Reuters

The first Democratic primary debate is scheduled to be held next weekover two nights. Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left criticizes Biden’s comments, praises Warren, and disapproves of Trump’s 2020 campaign message.

“Biden held a fundraiser at the Carlyle Hotel in New York… [He] told the roughly 100 affluent attendees that if he were elected, ‘nothing would fundamentally change’ for them. That ominous affirmation of the status quo should have gotten more attention, but instead we are talking about his remarks describing the ‘civility’ of the Senate in the 1970s and 1980s… Biden's remarks Tuesday were a sobering reminder of his checkered legislative history on issues affecting people of color… Will Joe Biden be that candidate many of us will have to hold our nose and vote for? Time will tell whether Biden loses the black vote because he keeps taking us for granted.”
Dorothy Brown, CNN

“Most following Biden’s career know he prides himself on being able to work well with those who do not share his politics. The former lawmaker believes Americans need to elect a president who can bring conflicting sides to the table for the good of the American people. But if Biden wants to keep his good favor with black voters, why could he not use an example of bipartisanship that did not involve men whose lasting legacies with many black Americans is their racism?… The politician who helped elect America’s first black president is potentially putting his success with the left’s most influential demographic in jeopardy by glossing over the long-lasting harms that racist policymakers promoted in the name of ‘civility.’
Eugene Scott, Washington Post

Many are reporting that “of the 23 Democrats who have announced they’re running, [Warren’s] is the name that comes up most… Her policy proposals are wonky so they’re not easy to condense into a column, but if you want the details, they’re not hard to find. Part of what makes her attractive is that she knows stuff. Serious stuff. Her fight is grounded not just in passion but in knowledge…

“It’s a fight against economic injustice, but not one based on pitting average Americans against each other. It’s a fight against an economic system that privileges corporations, big banks and the uber-wealthy. It’s founded on an understanding that while discrimination of many kinds runs deep and poisonous in our society, those sicknesses won’t be fixed without a restructuring of the economy.”
Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune

“Rather than condescend to voters, like most politicians, Warren has treated voters as adults, smart enough to handle her wonky style of campaigning… Week in and week out, she has been crisscrossing the country to tell receptive voters her ideas for an ultra-millionaire tax, student debt cancellation and breaking up big tech. She has also weighed in on reproductive rights, vaccines, the opioid crisis and algorithmic discrimination in automated loans. Her bevy of white papers demonstrates that there isn’t a policy area Warren won’t touch and she isn’t worried about repelling anyone with hard-hitting proposals… her polling surge shows that voters appreciate the nerdy policy talk.”
Jill Priluck, The Guardian

By contrast, “There was little new in Mr. Trump’s performance [at his rally]. He did not offer a governing vision or even an updated policy focus for a second term. His 76-minute speech was the usual brew of aggrandizement, aggrievement and demonization of political foes. He vilified Democrats as ‘ruthless,’ ‘unhinged’ monsters dedicated to ‘the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream.’ He whined about his persecution by the ‘fake news’ and the deep-state rogues who perpetrated the Russia ‘witch hunt.’ He devoted so much time to attacking ‘Crooked Hillary’ that it seemed as though a confused aide might have accidentally loaded one of his 2016 speeches into the teleprompters…

“It is a tricky line that Mr. Trump will attempt to toe over the next 18 months. As the sitting president, he needs voters to feel good about the job he has done — good enough to turn out and give him another four years. The animating force of his political success, however, has always been cultural grievance. He is the master of stoking voters’ most primal anxieties and resentments. Tuesday’s speech suggests that going forward, the president’s struggle to reconcile these conflicting imperatives will not be pretty — or good for the country. If his message in 2016 was that the political establishment and cultural elitists were exploiting, ignoring and sneering at regular Americans, his message this time is that the opposition despises and is aggressively plotting to destroy MAGA country.”
Michelle Cottle, New York Times

Some argue that “Trump may be historically unpopular, but he is popular enough to be (comfortably) re-elected… Trump has so far delivered to his non-traditional base. The average Republican, commonly referred to as the ‘moderate Republican’, is still not a fan of Trump, who is seen as too confrontational and vulgar, but got the one thing they care about: a tax cut… the Christian right will once again come out strong. While the support for Trump by religious voters puzzles liberals, it is pretty straightforward: the supreme court. Here, again, Trump has delivered…

“Finally, there is the real Trump supporter, the mostly blue-collar and lower-middle-class white voters who want to ‘build the wall’ (nativism) and ‘drain the swamp’ (populism). So far, they have not really gotten what they wanted… But where can they go?… Elections are not won by passive majorities but by mobilized minorities… [Trump’s] supporters have agency and urgency, the two things the Democrats are still lacking. They have 500 days left to create this, together, rather than apart.”
Cas Mudde, The Guardian

From the Right

The right defends Biden’s comments, criticizes Warren, and offers advice and reflects on Trump’s campaign kickoff.

The right defends Biden’s comments, criticizes Warren, and offers advice and reflects on Trump’s campaign kickoff.

“How should we treat fellow citizens who hold and promote views that we consider -- and may have good reason to consider -- deeply wrong and harmful? The beginning of wisdom in these matters, I think, is to recognize that any live controversy will involve people of good will on all sides, even if one side has the morally superior position. Part of the evil of state-enforced white supremacy was that many white people of basically good character who grew up within it absorbed its moral teachings, and part of our moral progress is that today only people of vicious character support it…

“There is no reason to be nostalgic about the days the Senate was home to [segregationists]. Even by the standards of their time and place, they were pretty hideous. Nor should we overestimate how much personal enmity stands in the way of political cooperation: Party polarization is based on some real differences on issues, not just vitriol. There is nonetheless something healthful about Biden’s instinct to seek common ground.”
Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg

Mr. Biden’s point was that he is able to work with people with whom he has profound disagreements to achieve constructive results. You have to ‘be able to reach consensus under our system,’ he said, and he’s a consensus builder… None of his Democratic opponents seriously believes he holds racially suspect views. What they have against him is that he is leading in the polls, and they hope to use the club of racial identity to reduce his considerable support among African-Americans.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Biden is right not to apologize. There was nothing wrong with working with fellow Democrats, even Dixiecrats, on non-racial issues as to which they agreed. Nor was [there] anything wrong with maintaining civil relations with fellow Senators… Biden is also smart to go on a ‘civility kick.’ He understands that most Americans don’t like President Trump’s uncivil manner. If they did, Trump would have a higher approval rating, given the strong state of the American economy.”
Paul Mirengoff, Power Line Blog

Regarding Warren, many note that “Warren has successfully donned the mantle of a policy genius, with the happy cooperation of a media eagerly seeking labels and pigeonholes for each of the 25 Democratic candidates. ‘Warren’s nonstop ideas reshape the Democratic presidential race,’ the Washington Post declared in a typical headline. But it’s a stretch to call these all her ideas…

“The list began with ‘new ethics rules on Supreme Court justices.’ Notably, her proposal here comes from a bill written and introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Warren signed on as a co-sponsor. Warren also touted ‘A law to force the release of politicians’ tax returns,’ in the Post's words. Warren in early 2017 introduced a bill requiring presidential candidates to disclose three years of returns. But Sen. Ron Wyden had, four months earlier, introduced a similar bill requiring such disclosure — Warren was a cosponsor. A wealth tax on billionaires was the third example. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., laid out the case for a wealth tax back in 2017. Warren rolled hers out in 2019.The image of Warren as the policy innovator, it turns out, is a bit of a tall tale, but it's one the media loves to tell.”
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

“The new [media] push has helped lift Warren above Bernie Sanders in one national poll and in a Monmouth poll of Nevada. Overall, however, she still lags Sanders significantly. Tellingly, her favorable ratings are weak in her home state of Massachusetts. A new Suffolk poll reports her favorables and unfavorables split at 46 percent apiece. Older polling of neighboring New Hampshire placed Warren fourth in the presidential primary race, behind Pete Buttigieg. She doesn’t seem to be faring well with the voters closest to her. A Chicago sports radio host once coined a term to describe situations where the national media was out of step with the locals: ‘out-of-town stupid.’When this sort of divergence happens, it’s worth asking why.”
Warren Henry, The Federalist

On the GOP side, in order to be re-elected, “first, [Trump] needs to take credit for the economy, and also avoid messing it up. Unemployment is at a historic low point, wages are up for lower-income workers, and the situation is especially good for black and Hispanic Americans… Second, Trump needs to take credit for his accomplishments in foreign policy… he has successfully bludgeoned free-riding NATO countries into increasing their non-personnel defense spending… persuaded Mexico to stem the unmanageable tide of Central American migrants seeking to game the asylum system at the southern border… [and] North Korea is at least not engaging in nearly as many threatening weapons tests.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“What was most interesting about [Trump's 2020 campaign] announcement was the acute self-awareness of the attendees. The whole rally seemed to preemptively rebuff the standard canon of -isms and -phobias imputed to the Trump movement. Scattered about the crowd were signs announcing the support of various demographic cohorts ‘for Trump.’ (Women for Trump! Blacks for Trump! Hispanics for Trump!) The camera even panned to a multiracial group wearing white shirts which bore the (endearingly forward) assertion ‘Trump & Republicans Aren’t Racist’…

“The heart of the Trump movement — a reservoir of disaffection and righteous anger — was on full display at the president’s official reelection campaign launch.”
John Hirschauer, National Review

A new species of 'cat fox' may be prowling French island of Corsica.
This creature eats stone. Sand comes out the other end.

CNN, New York Times

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