Is Bernie Sanders "Rigging" His Own Election?

[ Posted Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 – 16:44 PDT ]

That's a rather jarring headline, because it's a rather jarring thought. Is Bernie Sanders "rigging" his own election? Sanders was not a big fan (to put it mildly) of election-rigging not so long ago, after all, so the charge is especially personal. Given the evidence, I would have to say that technically Bernie isn't trying to "rig" his own election, rather he is encouraging the voters to rig it for him -- which to some may be a distinction without a difference, but to me is a hair worth splitting.

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Has Kim Jong Un Read Trump's Book?

[ Posted Monday, May 21st, 2018 – 17:26 PDT ]

Donald Trump supposedly wrote a book on how to be the world's best dealmaker. He didn't actually write it, of course (hence the "supposedly"), and it's even doubtful whether he's ever even read it through, cover to cover. He's not a big reading guy, to put it as politely as possible. But the thoughts contained within The Art Of The Deal were indeed Trump's, painstakingly collected by his ghostwriter. What one has to wonder right now, though, is whether North Korea's Kim Jong Un is following Trump's dealmaking script better than Trump -- because from outside appearances, this now seems to be the case. Perhaps, unlike Trump himself, Kim Jong Un actually read (and took to heart) The Art Of The Deal.

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Program Note

[ Posted Friday, May 18th, 2018 – 17:13 PDT ]

I have to begin with my sincerest apologies, since I know that it's Friday and everyone is looking forward to the end-of-the-week column; but circumstances beyond my control forced me to spend today dealing with my own personal offline world. We had to visit the doctor for a new cast on my wife's arm (she broke it a few weeks back, but she's doing fine), and I also had to deal with a sudden automotive emergency all afternoon. Between the two, there simply wasn't time to write a Friday column.

I know it's been an eventful and exhausting week in politics (just like all the others, these days), and there was plenty to talk about, from the C.I.A. chief's confirmation in the Senate to North Korea to the ever-spreading Trump scandals. Plus all the other stories of the week. I've always done everything I could to produce a new weekly wrapup column every Friday, and I am truly sorry I wasn't able to do so this week. I will try to keep all my notes and include at least some of it in next week's column. Until then, I promise to spend some time over the weekend catching up with answering some of the comments from all of last week. And again, my apologies for the lack of a Friday Talking Points column this week.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Listen To The Candidates, Not The Beltway Cocktail Party Chatter

[ Posted Thursday, May 17th, 2018 – 17:20 PDT ]

Mainstream media political pundits are often accused of focusing too much on "the horserace" aspect of elections, to the detriment of the actual issues being fought over in the race. It's so much easier to just watch the polls go up and down (and bang out an article about it) than it is to do a deep dive into what candidates are actually running on. At the most, the pundits will critique candidate television ads, always with an eye on how they are affecting the polls.

The pundits also have a few favorite storylines when it comes to assessing the two major political parties, which are trotted out every election cycle it seems (note: when it comes to assessing third-party chances, the theme of any story is inevitably: "Look at the funny candidates! How amusing!"). On the Democratic side, this usually takes the form of one or two storylines: "Democrats are divided and can't agree on one unifying message that can fit on a bumpersticker" or, conversely: "Democrats are running solely on not being Republicans." There's a third one dusted off when neither of these fit, as well: "Democrats have no new ideas."

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Seeking Five More Brave Republican Moderates

[ Posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018 – 16:59 PDT ]

As astonishing as it sounds, the House of Representatives may actually take action on immigration reform before the midterm elections happen. Paul Ryan isn't too happy about this state of affairs, since his original plan was to do absolutely nothing about the problem caused by Donald Trump attempting to end the DACA program. Ryan had planned for the remainder of the year for the House to only hold votes on bills that might conceivably help Republicans out on the campaign trail, and being forced to confront immigration was definitely not part of that plan. But he may have no choice, since he is now being pushed from two different directions -- within his own caucus -- to hold such votes.

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Reviewing Trump's Foreign Policy Moves

[ Posted Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 – 17:19 PDT ]

Quixotic. Peripatetic. Mercurial. These are all ten-dollar words which could describe Donald Trump's approach to foreign policy matters. A less-fancy term might be "totally incoherent." Trump stands for nothing, has a situational approach to any individual foreign policy issue, and doesn't seem all that conversant with important details -- all of which add up to a foreign policy that his own foreign policy advisors can't predict. They are continually being caught by surprise by some off-the-cuff Trump tweet or statement, and regularly scramble to provide some sort of backup to whatever bee Trump currently has in his bonnet. It's Nixon's madman theory writ large, because even Trump's own White House has no earthly idea what he'll do or say next. At least Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger were on the same page in their madman gambit, but Trump doesn't seem to be sharing his thoughts with anyone within his administration.

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N.P.V. Adds Connecticut

[ Posted Monday, May 14th, 2018 – 17:55 PDT ]

Last week, Connecticut became the twelfth state to join the "National Popular Vote Interstate Compact" (usually referred to as the N.P.V. movement), which aims to legally ensure that the presidential candidate who gets the most votes nationwide actually becomes president. This interstate agreement won't take effect until the total number of their Electoral College votes hits 270, which is the number required to win the presidency. With the addition of Connecticut, they have now reached 172, which means they only need to add states with fewer than 100 more Electoral College votes for the plan to become reality.

In concept, the idea is a rather simple one -- each state has passed exactly the same law, which (upon the total number hitting 270) would require all of their electors to cast their vote for the presidential candidate who had won a majority of the national popular vote, no matter how each individual state had actually voted. So if one state voted narrowly for Candidate A, but Candidate B won nationwide, then all of that state's electors would be bound by law to cast their vote for Candidate B instead.

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Friday Talking Points [484] -- House GOP Is Revolting!

[ Posted Friday, May 11th, 2018 – 18:03 PDT ]

Before we get to all the Trumpy news of the week, we had to headline what is going on in Paul Ryan's House, since it hasn't been getting enough attention yet. Because the House Republicans are revolting!

OK, we fully admit that we love to phrase such events using this pun, and we will even give proper credit here for where we first heard it. As a kid, we bought a book of "The Wizard Of Id" comics entitled The Peasants Are Revolting! (to which the king replies in an aside: "You can say that again!"). Since then, we love to use it whenever applicable. This week, it's Paul Ryan's turn (and there's even royalty involved!).

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What Kim Jong Un And Donald Trump Will Be Bargaining For

[ Posted Thursday, May 10th, 2018 – 17:26 PDT ]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has agreed to meet with Donald Trump next month in Singapore, which will be a historic summit meeting. This meeting will in fact be unprecedented, as no North Korean leader has ever previously sat down with a United States president. Predicting what will come out of this meeting is really anyone's guess, since both leaders can be described as mercurial (and even that's being polite to both of them, really).

Donald Trump has already convinced himself he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for even making the meeting happen. Well, perhaps... and then again, perhaps not. Unlike Trump, the rest of the world (and, assumably, the Nobel prize committee) will have to wait to see what actually comes out of this meeting before making such a determination. Nothing is guaranteed, in other words. The meeting could fizzle, and not produce much of anything.

One has to wonder exactly what Kim Jong Un is up to, because so far the impetus for this meeting has all come from him. After spending a year being as belligerent as possible, with multiple nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile test-firings, Kim suddenly decided to reach out to Trump. This turnaround seems planned and stage-managed by Kim, so it's worth exploring what he hopes to get out of his sudden burst of diplomacy.

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Ohio Takes Half-Step On Redistricting Reform

[ Posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 – 17:24 PDT ]

Last night, Ohio took a half-step towards the goal of ending political gerrymandering by removing politicians from the process of redistricting House seats after every decennial U.S. Census. The ballot initiative that passed in last night's primary election is somewhat convoluted, but will at least provide some sort of brake on rampant gerrymandering for purely political purposes. It may only be a half-step (or, if you like baked metaphors instead, half a loaf), but it certainly is a half-step in the right direction.

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