ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [393] -- Paul Ryan, Democrat?

[ Posted Friday, May 27th, 2016 – 17:03 PDT ]

Has Paul Ryan become so disaffected with Donald Trump that he quietly changed political parties, when no one was looking? The Washington Post, in an unrelated story, ran a photo of Orrin Hatch standing next to Ryan with the caption (emphasis added):

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), (L), is flanked by House Speaker Ryan (D-WI), (R), while signing the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, on Capitol Hill May 18, 2016 in Washington, DC

Note that "(D-WI)" in there [the "(R)" which follows it stands for "right," and not "Republican," we should add]. The truly odd thing is that this page hasn't been corrected yet (as of this writing), and it's been up for over a full day.

So when did Paul Ryan secretly become a Democrat? Heh. OK, we know it was just a typo, but still, it's fun to think about, right?

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Trump Triumphant

[ Posted Thursday, May 26th, 2016 – 16:21 PDT ]

Donald Trump just secured his 1,237th delegate to the Republican National Convention. He will thus be the party's nominee -- no ifs, ands, or buts. No pipe dream of a floor fight is going to save the party from nominating Trump. It's official.

A year ago, that would have been an extraordinarily fantastical paragraph to type. Six months ago, it still would have been considered outrageously improbable by most inside-the-Beltway pundits (from left or right). A month ago, the mainstream media was still howling with disbelief (and laughter) when a Trump spokesman predicted he'd get 1,400 delegates to the convention -- a figure that now looks downright possible. Now, Donald Trump is unquestionably the leader of the Republican Party. At this point, Trump securing the nomination is even kind of a footnote, since after Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out, Trump has been the only GOP candidate even left running. He'd already locked up the title of "presumptive nominee," so today's announcement is little more than confirmation of what has been obvious for weeks now.

No matter the outcome in November, the 2016 presidential election is already one for the history books. Students of political science will doubtlessly be examining this campaign under a microscope for decades to come. Every so often a political figure comes along who completely rewrites the rules, and for this generation it certainly looks like Donald Trump will be remembered for doing so (even if he loses the general election).

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Elizabeth Warren's Veep Audition

[ Posted Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 – 17:24 PDT ]

Is Senator Elizabeth Warren actively auditioning for the role of Hillary Clinton's vice presidential pick? At this point, it's rather hard to come to any other conclusion, since Warren has been so outspoken of late on the subject of how horrible Donald Trump would be as president.

The traditional role for the vice presidential candidate is, of course, to be just such an attack dog. The presidential candidate is supposed to have self-imposed limits on what they can say about their opponent, but the veep candidate isn't as constrained by appearing "presidential" and is thus able to unleash stinging attacks against the other party's candidate. This year, however, the Republican candidate is not exactly traditional in this regard (or any other, for that matter), since it would be so hard to imagine any other Republican outdoing Donald Trump in the "attack dog" category.

But the Democrats are on the brink of nominating a much more conventional presidential candidate, so they'll also likely be looking for a more conventional role for the vice presidential candidate as well. And Elizabeth Warren seems to be putting herself front and center for this consideration. Other Democrats have taken political shots at Donald Trump over the past few weeks, but Warren is definitely the most prominent and the most fervent of all the Trump critics. Who else has gotten into an open Twitter war with Trump, after all?

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An Update And Some Big Site News

[ Posted Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 – 17:19 PDT ]

I should mention right up front that I'm essentially punting on today's article. I had planned on doing this anyway, but then an appointment I had got cancelled at the last minute, so I at least now have the time to jot down a few things -- a news update and then some great news for the site. The first is just me patting myself on the back (again, I'm admitting this up front, in case there are cat videos or something else on the web which would be a better use of your time than reading this), but the second is a bit of personal news that I think regular readers will be almost as excited about as I am. But before we get to dessert, we've got to eat our vegetables.

Or maybe I should say before we get to dessert, we have to detour through the desert. Roughly a month and a half ago, I made a military prediction in this column. My initial plan for today's column was to merely re-run this prediction, titled: "Fallujah Will Fall Next," since that is now exactly what is underway.

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PUMA BOBs?

[ Posted Monday, May 23rd, 2016 – 16:55 PDT ]

There's a question on the minds of many Democratic Party leaders right now, which might be phrased: Will there be PUMAs? Or, to update it a bit: Will there be BOBs? Or maybe even PUMA BOBs? Perhaps you'll hear, at the convention: "I'm Bob Puma, glad to meet you"?

Cheap acronymic humor aside, the question is an important one. PUMAs, for those who have forgotten the 2008 Democratic primary race, were the supposedly-numerous Hillary Clinton supporters who refused to back Barack Obama (due to slights perceived during the hard-fought primary, as well as ideological differences), and were instead going to defect en masse and vote for John McCain. The name stood for "Party Unity My Ass!" which was also their rallying cry. This year, they may be replaced by the "Bernie Or Bust!" crowd, or (to coin a neologism) the BOBs.

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Friday Talking Points [392] -- Don't Panic!

[ Posted Friday, May 20th, 2016 – 17:18 PDT ]

This column was written from bottom to top today. The reason we started with the end and worked our way back up is that we were inspired to go off on a rant (rather than our usual talking points for Democrats). This was due to unusually high levels of panic in the media this week (actually it's not that rare that mainstream media panic causes us to go off on a rant, just in general). But because we started with this extended rant, we're going to have to summarize the week in lightning fashion here in this intro, because we are way behind schedule now. So without much extraneous commentary, here are the stories we noticed during the week.

The uninsured rate has now fallen to single digits, as the second year of final stats for Obamacare are in. This means seven million more people with healthcare, in 2015 alone. The uninsured rate stands at 9.1 percent, down 2.4 points last year alone. Oh, and the sky hasn't fallen yet, either.

One town in Mississippi's schools have finally been desegregated -- hey, what's 50 years of waiting, right?

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A Look Back At The 2016 GOP Nomination Race

[ Posted Thursday, May 19th, 2016 – 17:25 PDT ]

I realize that much of the political press is currently dissecting the continuing division amongst the Democratic base, at least those who aren't caught up in the he said/she said fight over who has treated women worse on a personal basis (Donald Trump or Bill Clinton?). But I'm putting all that aside for today (I'll address some of it tomorrow, never fear...), because I think it's about time to take a look back at the Republican nomination race -- specifically, the polls of GOP voters.

Ever since Trump essentially secured the Republican nomination, many famous professional pundits have been apologizing for getting the Trump phenomenon so very wrong. I haven't had to do this myself, since I not only looked at the polling which was happening at the time, but also actually believed it -- something even folks like Nate Silver are now admitting they couldn't bring themselves to do.

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Guest Author -- 'Today's Anecdote' By Paula (Part 2)

[ Posted Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 – 16:36 PDT ]

Program Note: Today I am once again turning my column space over to a regular commenter at my website, who wishes only to be identified by her login name "Paula."

Paula took it upon herself -- unasked, entirely on her own initiative -- to begin conducting "man/woman on the street" interviews with strangers she interacted with in her daily life (she lives in Akron, in the bellwether state of Ohio), to see what they thought about the election season. Such interviews are, of course, anecdotal -- they are in no way a scientific survey of public opinion writ large. But in a lot of ways, they are much more representative than most of what you hear in the media about how real people are actually reacting to the election process. The responses are a lot more authentic and genuine than anything you'll hear from inside the Beltway, in other words.

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Guest Author -- 'Today's Anecdote' By Paula

[ Posted Tuesday, May 17th, 2016 – 15:02 PDT ]

Program Note: Today and tomorrow, I am turning my column space over to a regular commenter at my website (ChrisWeigant.com), who wishes only to be identified by her login name "Paula."

Paula took it upon herself -- unasked, entirely on her own initiative -- to begin conducting "man/woman on the street" interviews with strangers she interacted with in her daily life (she lives in Akron, in the bellwether state of Ohio), to see what they thought about the election season. Such interviews are, of course, anecdotal -- they are in no way a scientific survey of public opinion writ large. But in a lot of ways, they are much more representative than most of what you hear in the media about how real people are actually reacting to the election process. The responses are a lot more authentic and genuine than anything you'll hear from inside the Beltway, in other words.

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Democratic Primary Home Stretch

[ Posted Monday, May 16th, 2016 – 17:04 PDT ]

We're really in the home stretch of the Democratic primaries now, as the last few territories and the last eight states will all be voting in the upcoming weeks. Tomorrow night, Oregon and Kentucky will weigh in, and then the last six states (who, for some unfathomable reason, all decided to go last this year) will finally get a chance to vote on the seventh of June: California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Before I get to predicting tomorrow night's races, as usual I have to take a moment to update the stats. Last Tuesday, I called West Virginia for Bernie Sanders, predicting he'd win by double digits. This turned out to be true, which gives me one more in the "win" column for Democrats. As I mentioned last week, since Donald Trump is the only candidate left on the Republican side, I won't be calling any more of their races (Republicans in Oregon vote tomorrow, too), and my Republican record for the year can now be considered final.

Total correct 2016 Democratic picks: 34 for 44 -- 77%
Total correct 2016 Republican picks: 37 for 47 -- 79%
Total overall correct picks: 71 for 91 -- 78%.

Those numbers may look pretty good, but I have to say I was chagrined to learn that there is a spoof pundit out there (Carl "The Dig" Diggler) who has also been playing this game, which was intended by the people behind the prank as satire of the horserace-obsessed political press. They intentionally ignored the polls and went with gut feelings designed to poke fun at how some pundits operate. This led them to write such lines as: "Wisconsinites are mostly a simple people. They eat their three lunches, kiss their often enormous children on their often featureless faces, and go to church so they can pray for the 2 Broke Girls." Pretty funny, I have to admit, but the sobering part is that their record of predictions is astoundingly good -- a fact which shocked even the people behind the spoof. Carl "The Dig" Diggler called 87 primary races so far. He got 77 of them right, for a very impressive 89 percent correct. My own record doesn't look so good, stacked up against what was intended to be a prank. It's stories like this which keep you humble about the whole business of political prognostication.

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