Before we begin, two quick notes. That subtitle above isn't ours, but when we heard what CNN's Brian Stelter called the hot mess we saw yesterday, we had to agree it was the perfect description. Stress conference indeed! Secondly, our opening metaphor to describe our own personal reaction is going to need a rather roundabout explanation, just to warn everyone in advance.
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Donald Trump just got thumped by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. There's no denying it. Even Kellyanne Conway can't spin her way out of this one. Three judges unanimously wrote a 29-page opinion explaining why Trump needed to be thumped. This means he can't even whine that it was a "partisan" decision, since these judges were appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents. Even more satisfying is the fact that even if the temporary restraining order which blocked implementation of Trump's Muslim ban is appealed to the Supreme Court, a 4-4 tie vote would just reconfirm the thumping the Ninth Circuit just gave Trump. We certainly hope this turns out to be just the first in a long line of setbacks the court system deals out to Trump, on a regular and continuing basis.
Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column!
Normally we open our annual awards column with an explanation of why John McLaughlin shouldn't sue us. It's become traditional, in fact, to skate the thin ice of "homage" and "satire" versus straight-up theft of intellectual property (which, of course, we'd never ever do... or, at least, admit).
Next Friday (and the Friday after that), we're going to have a special "in memoriam" edition of our year-end "McLaughlin Awards." For the uninitiated, this means handing out basketfuls of prizes, in a myriad of categories.
So, today, rather than write a column we can all cheerfully bicker over, instead I am throwing the doors open to nominations from all and sundry.
Donald Trump's name lends itself to all sorts of mashed-up words, but we find it doesn't really work with the big story of the week. British voters decided to take the so-called "Brexit" (or "British exit") from the European Union. But what should we call the increasing stream of Republicans flowing away from Trump's campaign? Truxit? Trexit? See, it just doesn't work all that well.
Before we begin, we should mention that this week's talking points section consists of a few extended excerpts from President Obama's recent speech on fighting the Islamic State. What he had to say was important, and it counters several insidious talking points that have been used against him in the past, so we felt it was worth taking over this week's talking points. Just to warn everyone up front.
Whither the fabled "Party of Lincoln"? That was the question on the minds of many Republicans this week, at least based on how often they used the phrase. Now, we're used to scathing attacks on character being hurled in the frenzy of a presidential campaign. Indeed, it's woven into the fabric of American politics. It's just that in normal years, these attacks are flung across the aisle, at the other party's nominee. It is extraordinary that all of the vicious attacks we're going to feature in our talking points section this week came from Republicans, all aimed squarely at their own party's presidential nominee. Seriously, when in the past have you ever heard the term "unendorse" used? We haven't checked, but we believe it just got coined and added to the political lexicon. It hasn't existed before because the concept hasn't ever existed before (again, in our own memory, at the very least). But we're going to get to all this in great detail later, so let's just move along for now.
Once again, we've got a rather long end section today, so we're going to present our wrap-up of the week's news in rather abbreviated fashion. This is because we are finally (only a few weeks late!) unveiling the finalists in our "come up with a playground taunt for Trump" contest (which initially ran back in FTP ), so there's that to look forward to, down in the talking points section.
We've reached the sparse and arid part of the primary calendar, which means that instead of another multi-state Tuesday, the political world is now focused solely on the Badger State. This follows last week, when (gasp!) no state voted on Tuesday, and will be followed by another two-week gap, before New York weighs in.