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Changing Dynamics For The Midterm Races

[ Posted Monday, October 1st, 2018 – 17:08 PDT ]

Five weeks from tomorrow, the 2018 midterm elections will happen. But, as we all know, a lot can happen in five weeks (especially these days). Up until about two weeks ago, the conventional wisdom had coalesced into a belief that the Democrats were more likely than not to take control of the House of Representatives, but also that they'd probably fall short in the Senate. However, within those two weeks, the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight has taken an unexpected turn. And today, perhaps as a very early "October surprise," President Trump announced a new trade deal with both Mexico and Canada. So it's time to consider what impact these two events might have on the midterms, if any.

First, the Kavanaugh fight. Now, there are two basic outcomes to this fight, no matter what twists and turns we take to get there. Either Kavanaugh is confirmed by the full Senate, or he is not. If not, he may have withdrawn his nomination or been voted down, but however it happens the ultimate outcome is still pretty binary. Either he becomes "Justice Kavanaugh" or he doesn't.

Both Democrats and Republicans have already started spinning how either of these outcomes will help them politically. Such is the nature of spin. Of course, we won't be able to tell whether any of it is true or not until the votes are counted (and perhaps not even then, given that voters' motivations are often a lot more complex than political prognosticators would like to admit). But that hasn't stopped both sides from making their case.

The Democrats argue -- pretty convincingly -- that no matter what happens with Kavanaugh, it is going to anger women voters. Or perhaps more accurately: "...it has already angered women voters." Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony was a cathartic moment in time for millions of women, as they heard her tell a story perhaps not so different from things they had experienced themselves. And they watched the reaction from all the male Republicans, and were not exactly impressed. If Kavanaugh is confirmed to the court, he will be a constant reminder of last week's extraordinary hearing, and if he is defeated it will only enthuse the Democratic base further.

The problem with this situation is that the Democratic base is already energized beyond belief. Democrats are viewing the 2018 midterms as a pivotal moment and most are extraordinarily committed to casting their vote in November. But if this is the case then getting even more committed doesn't really change anything. Once an individual voter is determined to cast an anti-Trump ballot, being even more determined to do so isn't going to change that single vote one way or another, in other words.

But maybe that's too simplistic. Because lots of voters convince themselves that they are going to vote in an upcoming election, but on Election Day life can get so complicated (due to whatever distractions appear) that they don't actually make it down to the polls. However, if voters have that extra reason to ignore any intervening difficulties in order to specifically make time for voting, it can certainly help the overall turnout. Again, though, even if this does happen it'll be hard even after the fact to quantify it, most likely.

The one sure thing on the Democratic side of the equation is that none of this is going to depress turnout in any way. Democratic voters will likely be just as fired up and determined to vote if Kavanaugh is confirmed as if his confirmation ultimately fails. Either way, it's a clear reason to send a message to Trump with your vote, really. So on the whole, politically the Kavanaugh confirmation battle will probably be seen as a net positive on the Democratic side no matter what the ultimate outcome.

On the Republican side, things are a lot more uncertain. Admittedly, Republicans pay a lot more attention to judicial nomination battles than Democrats. They've done so for decades, in fact, so they've got a clear advantage in that respect alone. But what will Republican voters think if Kavanaugh either is or is not confirmed?

If Kavanaugh squeaks by, will that energize the Republican base? Well, perhaps they'll celebrate a political win over liberal Democrats, and perhaps the GOP voter base will reward Republicans for successfully getting the job done. But as with the Democrats, this will probably be hard to measure even after the fact. One thing seems certain: if Kavanaugh makes it onto the Supreme Court, it can only help the Republicans' chances for a big turnout on Election Day.

However, if Kavanaugh does not make it, things get murkier. Will the voters be so disgusted with Republicans for not getting the job done even with a Senate majority that they stay home and don't even bother voting? Or will this failure only spur their enthusiasm and drive them to the polls? Republicans, obviously, are hoping the latter is true, while Democrats hope the former becomes reality.

If Kavanaugh fails, it may wind up both helping and harming Republicans in November. If droves of suburban women are inspired to vote Democratic because of the nomination fight, then it could mean the Democrats manage to flip a whole lot of House seats (ironically, many of them in districts personally gerrymandered by Republicans as "safe" districts). But at the same time, it could also boost Republicans' chances of holding on to the Senate. The Senate is much more relevant to the confirmation process, obviously, and Democrats have always had a very tough map this particular election cycle. So Republican chances in red states might actually improve, if Kavanaugh goes down to defeat. The argument "elect us and we'll guarantee the next nominee will be confirmed" could be a potent political promise in these states, in other words.

Republicans may benefit from Kavanaugh being confirmed, but perhaps only slightly. If Kavanaugh doesn't make it onto the court, however, it's really anyone's guess at this point how that would affect the Republican voting base. The possibility exists that it could harm their chances with the voters, although it is a more complex situation since it could wind up both hurting them and helping them at the same time.

Moving on to the other political issue which could change the flavor of the midterm race, Trump finally got a political win today on trade. Or, at least, that's how he's portraying it. Now, the new "United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement" (U.S.M.C.A.) is, in reality, nothing more than a slight upgrade to NAFTA. Most of the NAFTA framework will remain in place, while the new agreement tinkers around the edges a bit. But I'll leave it to the macroeconomists to ponder the impact of the new agreement on the economy and on workers' lives. Instead, what I'm interested in is whether the announcement of the agreement five weeks before the election will have any political effect.

This may sound crass, but it is in fact the most realistic way to look at things right now. The new agreement won't actually take effect until 2020, meaning that any possible outcome (good, bad, or indifferent) to Americans' actual lives won't be felt for years to come. Arguments can be made that the agreement is either helping or harming either individual workers or the overall economy, but those arguments won't be made until we're in the midst of the next presidential election (at the earliest), or (more likely) long after the next president is sworn into office.

The agreement may never actually even take effect, as well. It must be ratified by Congress, which might be a lot heavier lift than the White House expects. However, this political battle will be interesting because trade is a big subject (perhaps the last remaining one) where politicians don't automatically retreat to their partisan corners. There are free-trade Democrats and free-trade Republicans, as well as protectionists on both sides of the aisle as well. So the breakdown in any congressional fight will not be as clearly partisan as most such political battles.

But how good of a talking point will U.S.M.C.A. be on the campaign trail in the meantime? Few expect any congressional action on the deal before the election, which means it will remain an open issue for all the candidates. And since it doesn't break down on partisan lines, this means it could help or hurt individual Democratic or Republican candidates based solely on the makeup of the district or state.

The two big items Trump started bragging about in his announcement today show how localized such positions already are. Trump has been obsessed with Canada's dairy tariffs, even though it is a tiny, tiny fraction of our overall trade with Canada (and even with Canada's Byzantine system and high tariffs, American dairy producers already successfully sell billions of dollars of products across the border). But whatever -- Trump's been focused on it, and he extracted some minor concessions from Canada for dairy farmers. So how is that going to play, politically?

Well, it'll help in areas with a lot of dairy farming, to state the obvious. But will that change the dynamics of even these localized races all that much? A quick look at the top ten milk-producing states shows there are a handful which could be considered swing states (or, at least, states where Republicans are in close races this election cycle). These states are (with their overall rank for milk-producing states): Wisconsin (2), Texas (5), Michigan (6), Pennsylvania (7), and Minnesota (8). There is one other state that is so deep red it wouldn't really matter what's going on with trade negotiations, because Republicans will win there anyway -- Idaho (4). But then there are other states which are at this point pretty reliably blue, where trade matters aren't likely to affect any election's outcomes as well -- states such as New York (3), New Mexico (9), and Washington (10). And the biggest milk producer of all is deep-blue California, where Republicans are already toast (at least on the Senate ballot, where voters will get the choice in November between two Democratic candidates).

Of course, a more accurate measurement might be of how big dairy farming is to each individual state's economy. A state can be awfully small and yet still take enormous pride in their dairy industry to the point of it being a defining symbol of the state's economy. Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, immediately springs to mind. But again, Vermont isn't in any danger of turning electorally red any time soon, so Trump's new trade deal won't really change things much either way there.

Things play out in similar fashion with the other industry Trump is touting as being helped by the new deal -- automaking. There are automotive assembly plants (and parts manufacturers) in plenty of red states (mostly in the South), as well as in blue states and swing states. So in some places it might be a very potent political issue, but in other states it isn't really going to matter to the outcome of the vote.

Don't forget, also, that the trade issue doesn't fall neatly on partisan lines. The new trade deal has some provisions in it that Labor is very supportive of (allowing unionizing in Mexico, for instance), meaning blue-collar Democrats are likely to support the overall deal. In places like the Midwest where the automotive industry is a big deal to voters, oftentimes both candidates for any given race largely agree on trade issues, because that's what the voters demand from either a Republican or a Democrat.

This all muddles the picture even in the states that will most heavily be affected by the new trade deal. Politically, however, the issue will be framed as a big win for Donald Trump, which could help Republicans in a generalized sort of way. Even though the agreement won't take effect for over two years, and even though its chances of being ratified by Congress are anyone's guess, it'll be a potent political talking point for Trump, out on the campaign trail.

Since this election won't have Trump on the ballot, voters have been focusing more on what Congress has managed to get done (or, more accurately, not get done). This is an awfully short list. The Senate has confirmed one Supreme Court justice and may be on the brink of confirming a second Trump pick. Legislatively, the only major thing they managed to get done was to pass a tax cut that is monstrously unpopular with the average voter. The House tried to get voters excited by passing a second tax cut bill last week, but since voters didn't like the first one a second one isn't really going to impress many people at this point. Also, it is has already been pronounced dead on arrival over in the Senate.

Since Congress has absolutely nothing big to show for its past two years other than the tax cut bill, Republicans are desperately looking for other issues to use in their campaigns. "Trump finally got a trade deal!" is a new thing for them to brag about (or for Trump to brag about, as he holds rallies from state to state). Previously, the trade news out of the White House had been uniformly bad -- tariff after tariff, dwindling farm incomes as a direct result, and offering farmers bailouts rather than free markets. None of this has gone down well out in the heartland. So the successful conclusion of a deal with America's closest neighbors brings hope that Trump will (as he keeps insisting will happen) eventually manage to strike better trade deals with China and Europe.

It's tough to say definitively how any of this is going to play out with the voters, though, because there are complex issues at hand and complex emotional responses from the voters. Kavanaugh's nomination and the new trade agreement, however, will change the dynamics of the midterm races in plenty of places. Predicting how big a change this will be, and which side will benefit in any particular state or district, is pretty tough to do right now since both are still very fresh subjects. In a few weeks, we may be able to more accurately see how the electorate is reacting to both. But it'll be worth watching. I would hesitate at this point to call either event a game-changer, but I do think both will have some effect not only on the outcome of the race but (more immediately) on what the candidates focus on in their advertising and campaign rhetoric.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

46 Comments on “Changing Dynamics For The Midterm Races”

  1. [1] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Don't forget the Avenatti factor. I doubt he is bluffing...I think it more likely than not that he represents a client in a case without statute of limitations. He knows how to use the media. A confirmed Kavannaugh would be one long cable news soap opera until election day. He has honed his skills representing Stormy.

  2. [2] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Yup... Let's hope Avenatti's 'confirmation' is the only one Kavanaugh receives.

    It's no secret Avenatti rubs my fur the wrong way, but he's bad penny these days, and uncannily spot on with his crystal balls and smarmy monotonal swagger. It wouldn't raise many eyebrows if he suddenly dropped the hammer on Kavanaugh in the form of civil or legal charge, just to make Trump's head implode like a Lampoon Christmas Turkey.

    As for DRUMFTA, meh... easily summed up with and old English saying from the before time, when pay phones were at the pub and public toilets had attendants..." There I sat, broken hearted, paid a penny, and only farted" I know. Not subtle, but I'm sure that's where 'meh' gets its origin.

    I think the democrats should listen to the whispers on the wind, if they decry the Kavanaugh issue too much from here on in, they might inadvertently wake the snoozing hound that is the GOP base. Call it quits after this week, if Kavanaugh gets his golden keg, with matching steins, so be it. If he withdraws, he can slink back into his country club Christmas sweater world, and resume his chasing of interns and leering at women in bistros, while his wife texts the pool boy. But...the longer this shit goes on, the more wound up the GOP base becomes.

    LL&P

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    meh comes from yiddish

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    A rather deceptive title.

    Sounds like the same old tired dynamics to me.

    Will (fill in the blank) inspire Democratic voters go to the polls or will it inspire Republican voters to go to the polls and how will effect voters that go back and forth between the two?

    What aboot the over 50% of eligible voters (which includes the 20-30% of presidential election voters that don't vote in off year elections) in which (fill in the blank) and two uninspiring choices will only inspire apathy resulting in these citizens not voting in 2018?

    How aboot informing those citizens aboot the opportunity to send a message to Trump, the Big Money Republicans and the Big Money Democrats that will really change the dynamics of not only 2018 and 2020, but our entire political system?

    The party line talking point of the only way to send a message to Trump is to vote for Democrats in 2018 is a lie and is not reality.

    There is no shame in doing the right thing and addressing reality in the present even though it should have been done long ago. There is shame in continuing to ignore reality and not doing the right thing.

  5. [5] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [2] Spoiling a fanciful theory doesn't subtract from the point, this 2.0 isn't the sweeping maga-success it was touted to be, and cost a lot more in political optics than it will ever reap.

    Woodrow Wilson thought retreating into isolationism after WW1 was best for the US, that led ultimately to the Treaty of Versailles (which he thought unjust), to the great depression, to Hitler, to WW2, to the rise of communism as a world player, the cold war, Vietnam and so on and so on...America stepped onto the world stage and then buggered off and left a vacuum. History has a bad habit of repeating itself.

    so..meh

    LL&P

  6. [6] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Damn it, CW... when I first looked at the column it was only a handful of paragraphs, I went on one of my 'what's this guy smoking, and where does he get it' finger walks, refreshed, and discovered another whole article, posted below.

    let's take a windy-walk down reality lane, you and I...we can discus the 'Canadian Byzantine' system. Let's be frank, the US government subsidise the dairy industry up the yang of ying, the standards from housing, feeding and treating of livestock is medieval in comparison to the Canadian industry, and the US wonders why Canada gets tariff-uppity? wtf? Then the cretin, Trump tells his idiots that Canada is ripping off the US...it's more US bullshit than Canadian Byzantine system of tariffs...are you aware that DC has promised to lower the subsidies to match the increase of access to the Canadian market? Three hands up if you think trump will stick to that...

    No, no, no...It doesn't wash. Canada was just about the only country on earth that was dealing with the US amicably, and actually running at a trade surplus for the US.

    I don't blame Americans for having a lying, shirt-lifting peace of shit for their mouthpiece, I just bristle when intelligent people jump a ride on his verbal sewage to make a point that died on the vine, before the newly sanctioned Mexican workers could be herded in to pick at a yet another discount to the American farmer.

    LL&P

  7. [7] 
    neilm wrote:

    OK CW, you're sorta all over the place on this one.

    Nobody knows what the impact on either set of voters will be, and even if they did they couldn't prove it because this level of granularity is impossible to dissect after the election anyway.

    I'd call this a draw. The left, as you point out, and I agree (see "Happy Valley is Angry posts all of last year from me) is already in a high state of "when can we vote this abomination out and all his evil demons as well". The right seem to be amped up about abortion and this is their crowning moment so they are excited, but then they always are, so ho hum there.

  8. [8] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Dear Sirs, or 'madam', or who remains concerned.

    Having digested as much of the information about Mr. Kavanaugh as I can, I feel the need to add just one thing.
    I was combing my beard yesterday, while doing so, I was thinking about the movies referenced in testimony, from sources, that were contemporary for Mr. K's high school experience. I was struck by the omission of the movie 'Porky's'... a rollicking saga of youthful sexual acceptance and encounter, if ever there was.

    Many of us saw the movie several times, some still have sticky Betamax copies of the movie in their keepsakes from that time, along with calendars and locks of hair.

    I'm not suggesting that those of us who watched the movie lived our lives like that, or even have a ' Beulah Balbricker' like grip on those days in the present day, just that, Porky's was the quintessential movie of the era that we remember most.

    Thanks.

    Michael 'Mike' Hunt.

    LL&P

  9. [9] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Neilm-7

    I am of the opinion that being all over the place on this one is about the most reasonable place to be. The central tendency of punditry has not changed much, but the dispersion around the central tendency has broadened a bit. To put it another way, I think the best guess odds have changed little, but I am less confident about the stated odds of any given prognosticator. Myself especially.

  10. [10] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Trump finally got a political win today on trade. Or, at least, that's how he's portraying it. Now, the new "United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement" (U.S.M.C.A.) is, in reality, nothing more than a slight upgrade to NAFTA. Most of the NAFTA framework will remain in place, while the new agreement tinkers around the edges a bit.

    But of course that's how he's portraying it. Surprise... not surprise for anyone paying attention, but this is little more than Trump's latest con job.

    Let's review:

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country. That's what it is, too. It's a harsh word: It's a rape of our country.

    ~ Donald Trump, St. Clairsville, Ohio, 06/28/2016
    ___________________________________________

    Because NAFTA, signed by her husband, is perhaps the greatest disaster trade deal in the history of the world; not in this country. It stripped us of manufacturing jobs. We lost our jobs. We lost our money. We lost our plants. It is a disaster.

    ~ Donald Trump, Second Presidential Debate, 10/09/2016

    Con Artistry 101

    * Create the crisis or the scam. No fabrication is too outrageous to those who wish to believe it.
    Examples:
    - Trump University, get rich in real estate, promising graduate programs, post graduate programs, and doctorate programs but delivering the bait-and-switch upsell scam.
    -- Hillary is going to be locked up.
    -- Mexico is going to pay for a great border wall.
    -- The national debt will be eliminated in 8 years.
    -- TPP is "rape" and NAFTA is the worst deal in the "history of the world."

    * Seek out the aggrieved victims who so desperately want to believe (it's easier than actually thinking).

    * Oversee and stoke a period of disruption and chaos, and let the victims do most of the work.

    * Bring the crisis to a close. Make minor tweaks, reframe it, rename it, and inform the "victims" you have saved them from ruin and created perfection.

    Once approved by Congress, this new deal will be the most modern, up-to-date and balanced trade agreement in the history of our country, with the most advanced protections for workers ever developed.... This landmark agreement will send cash and jobs pouring into the United States and into North America. Good for Canada, good for Mexico. Instead of jobs leaving for overseas, they will be returning back home.

    * Declare victory over the crisis, regardless of the actual outcome.

    * Laugh your ass off.

    * Lather, rinse, repeat.

    And thus the reality TV show presidency rolls on, surrounded by smoke and mirrors with the con artist cult of personality sitting atop the entire circus and barking to the minions how much better things are at the circus.

    At what point do the minions clue in? The longer they buy into the con, the harder it is to admit they've been scammed, but there's always a turning point. :)

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Kick-10

    Your comment is right on target!

  12. [12] 
    neilm wrote:

    TS [9] - that was what I was trying to say :)

    Kick [10] - Exactly. There is an unverified story that after Trump canceled the TPP somebody actually explained to him what was in it and he regretted his decision. This story requires two leaps of imagination: (1) Trump can understand what the TPP was all about; and (2) he ever regrets anything.

  13. [13] 
    neilm wrote:

    At what point do the minions clue in?

    I have no idea - it was obvious to me from day 1 that this guy was a con artist who just wanted self publicity. He decided to see just how many marks there are in America and was probably as surprised as everybody that there was just enough to finagle a win via the thumb on the scale that the Republicans put on elections and a bizarre alignment of the Electoral College.

    To be dumb enough to fall for this con probably excludes you from having enough insight to realize you have been conned, so I'm not holding out too much hope beyond the "Never Hillary" voters who could be converted with a different candidate.

  14. [14] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Kick,

    Spot on! The GOP has a history of playing the “soft con” on their supporters - lying, but not going overboard in their dishonesty for fear of being shown as liars. But Donald Trump has come in and blown the doors off of their “soft con” and ratcheted it up a hundred times what they are used to doing.

    I don’t know why people buy into Trump’s BS and don’t think that I will ever understand it. If a loved one needed surgery and their surgeon came in and spoke in the confusing word-salad way Trump talks, I would never allow that person to operate on someone I cared for! I doubt many Trump supporters would either, but that doesn’t stop them from supporting him as our president!

    My father helped me understand his support of Trump a little better when he admitted that he knew Trump was often lying, but that all politicians lie and at least Trump’s are obvious. Not very uplifting reasoning, I admit.

    The problem is that the rest of the GOP can’t run a con game like Trump is able to do. Let them try, please, let them try....but they will fail!

  15. [15] 
    TheStig wrote:

    It is becoming clear that the press is already doing the FBI's job for them and doing it pretty well. Republicans might as well admit K. Is a fatally flawed nominee and give the FBI all the time it needs. That will give Kavanaugh enough time to process reality and withdraw his nomination.

  16. [16] 
    Kick wrote:

    File this one under:
    USMCA -- How did I not see this before?
    ___________

    U S M C A
    U S M C A
    U S M ----> C A
    U S C A M ---->
    U S C A M
    ___________

    USCAM

    You scam! Fixed it. :)

  17. [17] 
    neilm wrote:

    The problem is that the rest of the GOP can’t run a con game like Trump is able to do.

    We saw that in the primaries - whenever one of the losers tried to out-Trump Trump they crashed and burned. Cruz held on the longest because he was the second biggest asshat on stage.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Everyone,

    How do the Democrats win in 2020?

    What do they have to do to ensure that Trump is not re-elected.

    How do the Democrats beat Trump?

    This is fodder for an actual discussion that focuses on actual issues and what the Democratic party stands for and what their message should be in 2020.

  19. [19] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [10] I like it, Kick. You have a bead on Trump's skullduggerous ways.

    I see it across the GOP board, they are portraying Democrats ultra-socialists who want to ban guns, let Mexican gangs run in the streets like feral dogs and tax everyone 199% on their income. Then there's Cruz... who outdoes them all and refers to Beto as 'cultish', as if Texas needs one more cult.

    I can't help feeling there's something wrong here...I get twitchy when Trump plays supplicant and hedger simultaneously. He wants Mr. K to be on the SCOTUS, yet he wants him to jump through a 'hogshead of real fire' by subjecting him to further review and declaring, if he's proven a liar he wont get to 'challenge the world'. I'm inclined to believe that Mr. K's nomination, 'having been some days in preparation', might have been a miss-direction to bubble up the GOP base, as that seems to be the case. I'm not confusing Trump's agenda with that of the GOP, the GOP have drooled for the day they can gain the top bench, I think Trump might suspect his days are numbered with the Evilgelicals once their bidding has been done...

    Either way, come Friday, 'a splendid time is guaranteed for all...'

    LL&P

  20. [20] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    It feels like there's a shift in Kav weather this morning. That is, the accusation's half lives seem to be collapsing
    At this point, this is a real horse race, with, I suspect, a lot of fixers on both sides lurking around the paddock.

    I never did know anything, and now I even know less.

  21. [21] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Apostrope mismatch in first sentence above, and phantom line return. Other than that, all remaining confusion is intended.

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    donald doesn't lie. not really. in order to lie, you must have enough of a grasp on reality to realize that what you're saying isn't actually true.

  23. [23] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [22] I'm not sure 'oblivious' is much of an improvement on 'liar', as character flaws go.

    Nice parsing though.

    LL&P

  24. [24] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    How do the Democrats beat Trump?

    How do the Democrats win in 2020?

    What do they have to do to ensure that Trump is not re-elected.

    It sounds glib, but it's true: Republicans mostly beat themselves, and the same is true of Democrats. Incumbency is a powerful tool, just ask Joe Manchin.

    I think that, due to his own words and actions, Trump is facing the largest electoral wipeout since Walter Mondale.

    That's not to say that Democrats don't have to field a credible alternative. Whomever they pick will be savaged by Republicans - this puts me into your Biden camp, as he's already a survivor of GOP slings and arrows. I think Liz Warren or Kamala Harris are credible VP picks.

    Biden could deliver a solid old-school Democratic message, focused on the working class. A return to competence on the world stage, a return to concern for the sick, the desperate, the oppressed, and the underpaid. An end to pious politics and a return to real Christian values, including tolerance.

    I think that's a winning message.

    But I still think that Trump fate us ultimately in his own hands. He's trying hard to take credit for his Cover version of NAFTA, claiming that taking out pollution controls and upping the volume of dairy a notch essentially makes it a new song. Even George Harrison couldn't get away with that one.

    My point is that he still has time to resuscitate his image before 2020, something that others have managed before. If he decided, for instance, to strengthen rather than weaken Obamacare, sign peace treaties with North Korea, Iran and Cuba, and turn his tariffs into long-term economic treaties, he might actually be hard to beat in 2020.

    But, HA! I really don't see that happening. We'll spot a unicorn first.

  25. [25] 
    neilm wrote:

    My point is that he still has time to resuscitate his image before 2020, something that others have managed before

    He doesn't think anything needs improvement. He's a moron, remember?

  26. [26] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    JTC [19]: I think Trump might suspect his days are numbered with the Evilgelicals once their bidding has been done...

    ...and they already have their boy Pence waiting in the wings, ready to assume the mantle.

    And that's why all this For the Benefit of Mr. K!

  27. [27] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [25] He doesn't think anything needs improvement. He's a moron, remember?

    How could I forget? heh.

    Just trying my hand at fantasy political fiction.

  28. [28] 
    Kick wrote:

    EM
    18

    How do the Democrats win in 2020?

    Easy answer. Democrats and left-leaning independents are the majority; all they have to do to win in 2020 is not get distracted by those who would divide the "left" into factions and show up and vote.

    In the meantime:

    1. Win the midterms
    2. Keep OSC Mueller doing his job

    Message: Vote D for Democracy or R for Russia

  29. [29] 
    Kick wrote:

    Continued from [28]

    3. Expose the Con
    __________________________

    BREAKING NEWS

    Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes
    as He Reaped Riches From His Father

    The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.

    By DAVID BARSTOW, SUSANNE CRAIG and RUSS BUETTNER
    Oct. 2, 2018

    President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

    Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

    But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

    https://tinyurl.com/y8qwnguk

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Balthasar,

    … this puts me into your Biden camp, as he's already a survivor of GOP slings and arrows. I think Liz Warren or Kamala Harris are credible VP picks.

    Biden could deliver a solid old-school Democratic message, focused on the working class. A return to competence on the world stage, a return to concern for the sick, the desperate, the oppressed, and the underpaid. An end to pious politics and a return to real Christian values, including tolerance.

    I think that's a winning message.

    Thanks for a serious response!

    I think the next Democratic presidential nominee is going to be faced with a clean-up job no less Herculean than were the Augean stables - domestically and internationally.

    Which is why I believe Joe Biden fits the bill - not least because he has already been involved in cleaning up such a mess in the form of the financial crisis of 2007/08 and because he already has the respect of world leaders.

    It would not surprise me if Biden opts for a hybrid or fusion ticket, assuming he is the nominee, and picks a moderate Republican. In fact, I would expect it. In any case, he will choose wisely and take into account all relevant factors.

    My dream ticket, however and since we're talking fantasy, is Joe Biden/ Jerry Brown.

    You've given us a very good start in terms of what a winning Democratic message looks like.

    I think part of that message has to be a sincere economic reckoning for how the Democrats have contributed to the present situation where income inequality continues to rise. The economic part of the message must ring true with the middle class, including with some Trump supporters, and acknowledge the robust economic growth that may still be the case by the time presidential primary season rolls around.

    I've lost a great deal of faith in the notion that the Mueller investigation will lead to Trump's downfall. In any event, Democrats should not count on the fact that Trump won't last beyond his first term and rather operate on the assumption that they have to fight for every vote.

  31. [31] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

    Trump lawyer Charles Harder told the Times: “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters.”

    Harder added: “The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.”

    Interesting that Trump's lawyers don't refute the allegation, they simply dump the blame on Trump's chief Accountant - who is currently singing to Mueller.

    Keep an eye on the sourcing for this. It could be an attempt by the Trump team to discredit one of Mueller's star witnesses. If not, they'll surely use it to that end.

    .

  32. [32] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

    Trump lawyer Charles Harder told the Times: “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters.”

    Harder added: “The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.”

    Interesting that Trump's lawyers don't refute the allegation, they simply dump the blame on Trump's chief Accountant - who is currently singing to Mueller.

    The Times article claims that this information was developed through hundreds of interviews, but fails to be specific about the source of the documents. Be wary - this plays right into the hands of anyone who might want to discredit one of Mueller's star witness.
    .

  33. [33] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Oop. Only meant to post the second version of that.

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    We knew that.

  35. [35] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    The economic part of the message must ring true with the middle class, including with some Trump supporters

    Some being the operative word. Most Trump supporters long ago bought into the Republican theory that giving government money to anyone whose last name isn't "Inc." is a bad idea.

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Some being the operative word.

    Indeed.

    But, they may number more than some people think.:)

  37. [37] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [29] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/donald-trump-tax-schemes-fred-trump.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    A truly jaw dropping account of the Trump's familial distaste for paying taxes.

    Bear in mind, Trump could sue were any of this false...but won't, because it's true, and, Trump's sister is a federal court judge!

    Helluva read, well worth the time.

    LL&P

  38. [38] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Re-watched Kavanaugh’s testimony to the Senate and is it me or does he get overly choked up when discussing things that are not typically thought of as emotionally charged topics?

    Weight lifting after school at a friends house choked him up.

    Naming different girls that he would talk on the phone to choked him up.

    Talking about how his day got him to start using a calendar choked him up. I guess if his dad was dead and he was thinking back on his time with his father I could see getting choked up.... but his dad was sitting right behind him at the hearing!

    It just seemed more like very bad acting than actual emotions.

    I guess he and PJ should have spent more time with the drama club and less time lifting weights at Squee’s.

  39. [39] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [30] E M... 'My dream ticket, however and since we're talking fantasy, is Joe Biden/ Jerry Brown.'

    Keyword--Dream-- All things being equal, which is a stretch in US politics, Biden is the perfect candidate to run for President. The only question would be, with whom, for sure. To step on the thin ice of speculation, I would suggest either Booker or Harris... Biden is perfect to douse Trump, but I think a passing of the baton would have to be part of the overall equation. Four years of riding shotgun would benefit both Booker and Harris. I think either one has the potential to lead. My heart would put Kamala Harris ahead of Booker with Biden, but I just don't trust the American penchant for misogyny, or racism...obviously, the two combined, isn't where the US is right now.

    LL&P

  40. [40] 
    neilm wrote:

    NY Tax Board is investigating the allegations in the NY Times article.

    This has the potential to be a financial disaster for the whole family.

    I'm crying real tears for them. I'm as emotional as a supreme court nominee talking about calendars.

    I'm going for a beer.

  41. [41] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    My heart would put Kamala Harris ahead of Booker with Biden, but I just don't trust the American penchant for misogyny, or racism...obviously, the two combined, isn't where the US is right now.

    Eh, they said the same thing about Obama. I think that's why the Right thinks his election was the day the music died.

    The black vote, if you can get it to come out, trumps the racist vote. And we're already seeing what a motivated woman's vote can do.

    Further, the black left is gonna say, 'you had a lily white ticket last time - where'd that get you?'

    On the other hand, I've heard a lot of white liberals just assume that it's Warren's turn.

    It will be an interesting primary season, that's for sure.

  42. [42] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Balty, I guess what I was trying not to say was, even a complete and utter fraud like Trump seemed better than a woman... Obama is a different fish of the same pond. It could have been the racist element in the US, which we know is still prominent, had been bubbling in fury while a black man took control and succeeded in the "White House". I'm thinking the truth is simple, Clinton lost because the electorate needed to vent and a 'she', any she, was going to be bad timing. The Trump experience is down to the right-wing and their need for a vulgarian to give voice to their feelings--and--the left-wingers Laissez-faire attitude towards Trump's chances--and-- the US mass media covering the spectacle and not the man and his past...

  43. [43] 
    Paula wrote:

    Blotus reaches a new low making fun of Dr. Ford at his Mississippi rally.

    Probably trying to distract people from the NYTimes article.

    Whatever his motives he is vile and his followers are scum-of-the-earth.

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Enlightening.

  45. [45] 
    Kick wrote:

    neilm
    40

    NY Tax Board is investigating the allegations in the NY Times article.

    State of New York criminal charges that can't be pardoned. Poor Donald, DJTJ, Eric.

    Poor Ivana Marie a.k.a. Ivanka.

    I'm crying real tears for them. I'm as emotional as a supreme court nominee talking about calendars.

    Don't bring her name up. She's a great person. She's always been a great person. We never had any sexual interaction. By bringing this up, you're just — just dragging her through the mud. It's just unnecessary.

    I'm going for a beer.

    I like beer. I like beer. ;)

  46. [46] 
    Kick wrote:

    JTC
    42

    That about sums it up... very nicely too. Sad.

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