I had fully intended to write another column postulating that our president and a few of his advisors are nothing short of blithering idiots (you know, the usual thing), but then I got hooked into the modern world of technology and instead sat through the entire hour-long oral arguments hearing in Washington v. Trump, which turned out to be fascinating. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals helpfully live-streamed the audio of a conference call where the lawyers from the Trump administration and the state of Washington made their case to a three-judge panel, on the merits of the temporary restraining order that a district judge in Washington issued that shut down President Trump's executive order banning people from seven countries from entering the United States. So any citizen could, in effect, sit in the courtroom and hear the cases made. I have to admit a certain level of wonky awe that this is the world we live in -- where such things are not just possible, but are now routine.
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However, regular readers of this column are going to have to wait yet another week for a standard Friday Talking Points offering. This week we are throwing out our format entirely, and instead providing an explanation of who we're voting for, followed by a call for reform in an effort to inject a possible silver lining to what promises to be a very contentious Election Day (no matter who wins). Yes, there will be optimism at the end of this column, specifically provided for people who are tired of the apocalyptic tone of the final pre-election week. So there's that to look forward to.
This column has always loved a good rant. Most of the time, we provide our own rant at the end of the column, on a subject too big to be contained in talking points. This week, we provide a number of rants from Republicans about their very own party's presidential nominee. Yes, it's only August and the Republican Party is coming apart at the seams. Which, of course, makes for great summertime reading for all!
It has been an extraordinary two weeks on the presidential campaign trail, but then again that statement could have been uttered pretty much at any point during the past year and still have been just as true. This time around, I'm referring to Donald Trump obviously starting to consider the possibility that he's going to lose the general election. He never used to talk about (or even acknowledge) this possibility before now, but all his dismal post-convention polling may have forced him to begin to think about it.
Maybe I should have subtitled this "random notes from the whirlwind" -- this is going to be a collection of disjointed observations, at best, so I thought I'd just warn everyone up front not to expect a coherent narrative or anything. What follows are random notes from the Democratic National Convention that I haven't had the time to set down before now. The early portions of tonight's program in the arena are just an affirmation of Tim Kaine's nomination, so I'm going to skip trying to attend (or to even pay attention), as I did for the first day (Bernie supporters challenging rules) or the second day (roll call for presidential nomination). We are now halfway through the convention, after two days and nights. This year is more of a marathon event than the previous convention was in Charlotte, which only lasted three days. So here is everything I've noticed so far, in no particular order.
Donald Trump finally stopped talking, so I can now start writing. His speech went on for almost an hour and a half, which was a bit much for me -- especially after an exhausting week of listening to Republicans talk. But that's the end of the evening, so let's go back to the beginning and see how we got here.
We begin today with a warning. Our regularly-scheduled Friday Talking Points are going on hiatus for at least three weeks. Next Friday, we'll be heading to the Democratic National Convention, and the Friday after that we'll be heading back home. For both today and next Friday we're taking a look back (through the lens of our talking points) at the entire 2016 presidential campaign season so far. We have no idea what we're going to do the Friday after that (indeed, we can't even promise that there'll be a column at all on July 29th, at this point). Regular FTP columns will resume the first Friday in August, just in time for the traditional "Silly Season" of American politics.
Paul Ryan reluctantly took the job of leading the House of Representatives because he had a dream he thought he could actually achieve. Ryan's dream went something like this: he'd whip his Republican caucus into shape, then they'd fall in behind him and help pass his dream GOP agenda as a series of bills -- all of which would be sent to the Senate. Of course they'd never reach President Obama's desk (for an almost-certain veto), but that wasn't the point. The point was to show the American electorate that Republicans had many good legislative ideas that could become reality with the election of a Republican to the White House. The entire exercise was to be Ryan's own personal party platform, in other words, designed to help Republican candidates win in the election. It would be the fulfillment of the promise Ryan represented to many Republicans when they convinced him to take the job -- that he was a wonky kind of guy who understood the ins and outs of the budget better than any other Republican in Washington.
We have to admit, we don't know where we heard that subtitle, and we certainly can't claim original credit for it. We think we read it in a comment to a Washington Post article, but we're not certain. In any case, as the stream of Republicans fleeing the Donald Trump candidacy becomes a flood, it does seem the appropriate metaphor to use -- the ships are leaving the sinking rat this time, not the other way 'round. We'll get to all of these amusing developments in the talking points this week, because we're devoting the entire section to the "Dump Trump" theme this week.
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.