We'd like to boldly add a new disease's definition to the political lexicon. We feel this is necessary since Donald Trump seems to have caught a rather drastic case of "100 Days Envy." Symptoms are a tendency to flail around looking for a legislative win you can brag about, and an unnatural fear of being called a loser by the entire planet's media for not even coming close to fulfilling pretty much any of the grandiose promises you made for your first 100 days in office.
The only cure for such a malady is time. Give it a few more weeks, and the media will probably forget all about how much fun it is to mock your lack of achievements. It'll all get better soon, but you're going to have to take your medicine while it happens, sorry about that.
Heh. To put all of this another way: next week's scheduled "100 Days Schadenfreudefest" has already begun, here at Friday Talking Points headquarters.
We have to wonder, given Trump's masochistic fascination with Saturday Night Live, if this all wasn't spurred on by Alec Baldwin's Trump portrayal last week, during which he asked that the list of his 100-days accomplishments be read to him. The list consisted of: "1. Confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court," and nothing else. This is but a harbinger of the coming flood of "100 days" stories written in the next week, all of which will conclude exactly the same thing: Trump has absolutely squandered any political capital he might once have had. He got a Supreme Court justice confirmed, and that is indeed the extent of his major accomplishments. Which is one of the big reasons why he's now less popular than United Airlines.
This is all the more schadenfreude-y because Trump himself promised so much for his first 100 days. Here's but one of his tweets with a list of things he'd accomplish. Note well -- only one thing on that list has actually even been attempted. It then failed spectacularly (the "repeal and replace" fiasco in the House). And remember all that talk about how we'd "get tired of winning" and beg Trump to slow down with all the winning because we couldn't take it? With one week to go, is anyone now tired of Trump's incessant winning? Didn't think so.
Panic is reportedly setting in over at the White House. The new idea is to try to jam through the "repeal and replace Obamacare" bill once again. A quick review -- this bill had an artificial deadline set originally (by Paul Ryan), was so hastily constructed that the final version didn't even get a chance to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office, and did not have the support of enough Republicans to get passed. This was due to two groups, one of which thought the bill was pretty awful because it kicked 24 million people off health insurance, and the other that (incredibly) thought that that the bill wasn't awful enough.
Now the White House is setting its own artificial deadline (pass it before Trump's 100 days are up, so he's got something to brag about), it is being so hastily constructed that the final version will not have enough time for the C.B.O. to score it, and (amazingly) has been tailored to be even more awful than the first go-round, in order to tempt Tea Partiers to vote for it. This is going to lose even more centrist Republican votes, and is likely doomed to failure even in the House.
Wow. It's like déjà vu all over again (as Yogi Berra famously said). Here's Trump, predicting victory: "The plan gets better and better and better, and it's gotten really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon. I'd like to say next week, but we will get it." This is, of course, fake news. The plan is actually getting worse and worse, and a lot of people are hating it a lot -- a lot of Republican people, even.
And they're going to attempt to do all this in the midst of a looming deadline of a government shutdown if a continuing resolution budget bill doesn't pass. Good luck, guys!
But because at this point it's hard not to feel sorry for Trump, we'd like to offer up a suggestion to both the White House and the Republicans running Congress. Why not pass a single-page "We hate Obamacare" resolution? Just fill it up with all the "Obamacare is bad... mmm'kay?" stuff you want (with apologies to Mr. Mackey). However, the one-page bill wouldn't actually change anything, it would just be a way for you to express your displeasure to the world.
See, Trump doesn't really care what he signs, as long as he gets to sign something. This is obvious -- compare what he said he wanted to do on healthcare before he got elected with the garbage-fire that is the Ryancare bill. Trump doesn't care, so just pass some meaningless "sense of the Congress" resolution about how much the GOP hates Obamacare. Kind of like all those dozens and dozens of bills the House passed back when they knew Obama would veto them.
This way, everybody wins. Trump gets to sign something, he gets to brag about it, Republicans get to vent, but (crucially) nobody's health insurance gets taken away. The perfect solution!
In keeping with this reach-across-the-aisle (with tongue firmly in cheek) attitude, we'd now like to say something positive about a Donald Trump photo-op. No, really! Trump went up to a Snap-On tools factory to announce a crackdown on H-1B visas, and we honestly have to admit that even we were impressed by the backdrop -- an American flag mosaic made entirely of Snap-On tools. Now that was a nice flag! Maybe it's a "guys who love tools" thing, we don't know, but we were indeed impressed with whoever had the initiative to put such a cool thing together for a presidential visit. Well done! And, incredibly enough, even on message for Trump's speech! Somebody at Snap-On deserves a raise....
Also pleasant to see on television last week was the news that Bill O'Reilly will not be appearing on television anymore. Yep, Bill-O has finally been dumped by Fox News. Only a decade or so after the world learned what a complete and utter pig he is -- on a regular basis -- towards women he wants to have sex with (no matter what they thought of the prospect). Really, this should come as no surprise to anyone, since we've had the transcripts for a long time now. But when advertisers started dropping Bill like a hot potato, Fox finally acted. "About time" doesn't even begin to cover it. Like Glenn Beck before him, Bill O'Reilly got the boot because he was starting to affect the company's bottom line and attracting massive protests right outside their front door. The one iron-clad law of working for a corporation has always been: "Everybody can be replaced -- even you." Especially when the company's trying to buy Europe's Sky News network.
Hey hey, ho ho, Bill O'Reilly's got to go.
To close on a more positive note, we would like to point out that this weekend is the second in a string of three where anti-Trump protests are happening, so we'd encourage everyone to attend the nearest march for science this weekend. Technically, this one is not so much "anti-Trump" as "anti-anti-science" -- fighting the tide of politicians refusing to believe the data in front of them, on all sorts of important issues. So it's not an "anti-Trump" rally so much as an "anti-Republican idiocy" rally, really. Hopefully all the marches all get good weather and overwhelming turnout!
A special House election happened in Georgia this week. Democrat Jon Ossoff got a whopping 48.1 percent of the vote, in a "jungle primary" that had more candidates on the ballot than the Republicans put up for president last time around. Ossoff's nearest competitor was a Republican who pulled in just under 20 percent of the vote.
That's impressive -- a 28-point margin win! Especially considering this is Newt Gingrich's old House seat. Which is why Jon Ossoff is easily our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week.
Ossoff beat expectations handily, since most polls showed him with support in the 41-45 percent range. He did five points better than his polling average, which can only be called extremely impressive in such a red district. This also showed the Democrats' turnout was much better than anyone expected, and the Republican turnout was down from what they'd expected. This is all to the good.
...Jon Ossoff also failed to gain an absolute majority of the vote (by two points), which means there will be a runoff election in June where he faces off against a single Republican opponent.
That was very disappointing to a whole lot of Democrats, which is why we've also got to hand Ossoff the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award as well.
If Ossoff had cleared the 50-percent bar and won the seat outright (no runoff necessary), then Democrats across the country would have rejoiced and proclaimed the inevitability of a "wave election" coming in 2018 which would sweep the Republicans out of power in at least one house of Congress. Whether this would become true or not, this would have energized the party's faithful by giving them a clean win in a previously staunch Republican district to crow about. By falling short, Democrats now have to pin their hopes on either the Georgia runoff or a special House election in Montana where they think they have a good shot at another upset.
Ossoff still has a chance, of course. There were other Democrats in the race, who (together) pulled in about a single percent of the vote. This means 49 percent of the people who voted in the special election voted for a Democrat. So all Ossoff might have to do to win in June would be to pick up a single additional point -- putting the race squarely in the "tossup" category.
But for the next two months, Ossoff won't have the luxury of being able to stay largely above the fray, as he did in the primary phase (when all the Republicans were mostly focused on attacking each other). Now it will be a one-on-one partisan race, meaning Ossoff's going to have to go on the offense a lot more. We'll see if he can maintain his sunny atmosphere throughout.
Bazillions of dollars from both sides have already been spent on this race, and that flood of money and advertising is only going to increase. We feel sorry for anyone attempting to watch television for the next few months in Atlanta, that's for sure.
The contest will very likely become a referendum on Donald Trump. Trump's not very popular even with Republican voters in this district, so his performance over the next two months will likely influence the race.
But the big disappointment this week was clearly that we have to go through this phase at all. If Ossoff had pulled in two percent more last Tuesday, he'd be on his way to being sworn in right now, because no runoff would have even happened. For that disappointment, Ossoff becomes the winner of both the MIDOTW and the MDDOTW -- a convergence which has only happened three previous times in this column's history.
[Jon Ossoff is currently a candidate for office, and it is our longstanding policy not to provide links to campaign sites. Therefore, to either commiserate with or congratulate Jon Ossoff, you'll have to search out his contact information on your own, sorry.]
[Editorial note: For the record, the three previous dual award winners were: Joe Biden won both awards in FTP 223 (8/17/12) for two remarks he had made that week; Eric Holder in FTP 144 (10/22/10) for settling a decades-old case brought by Native Americans against the federal government but also for weighing in (unethically, if not illegally) on the side of defeating California's first attempt (Proposition 19) at legalizing recreational marijuana; and Hillary Clinton way back in FTP 22 (3/7/08), for winning the Rhode Island, Ohio, and Texas primaries, but also for how she campaigned in these states (which saw the first airings of the infamous "3:00 A.M." ad) -- and for blowing the line: "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night" in her SNL appearance. This column was even subtitled "Hillary Sweeps The Awards!" which is why we're pointing out the relative rarity of such an occurrence -- only the fourth time in 433 Fridays!]
Volume 433 (4/21/17)
Another mixed bag of talking points this week. Which includes a fun one towards the end, where you get to make up your own conspiracy theories! So without further ado, let's just get right to it.
Maybe Matt Lauer can help?
This is already a running joke on late-night television.
"Perhaps Donald Trump should appoint Waldo to run the Navy. Maybe he could find where our aircraft carriers are in all of that ocean. No, wait -- I've got a better idea! Let's get Matt Lauer on the case. He could fly around the world and broadcast 'Where in the world is the U.S.S. Carl Vinson' segments! Now that'd be good television -- or at least better than the White House clown show we saw over the past few weeks on the issue."
Like a lead balloon
More bad news for Trump from Gallup.
"In the past month, Donald Trump's poll numbers have taken quite a few major hits. On the question of whether Trump keeps his promises or not, he fell from 62 percent believing he kept his word to only 45 percent in one month's time. This drop was across the board -- among women, men, millennials, baby boomers... pretty much everybody. Among independents, the drop was from 59 percent to 43 percent. But that's not the only metric where Trump's numbers are tanking -- once again, it's pretty much across the board. 'Strong and decisive leader' went from 59 percent to 52 percent. 'Trump can bring about changes this country needs' went from 53 percent to 46 percent. He's really in the toilet on 'honest and trustworthy,' which went from 42 percent to a dismal 36 percent. And we're not even at 100 days yet, so those numbers can fall even further! Donald Trump is definitely going to set all kinds of records for 'most unpopular president ever,' that's for sure. No wonder he's so worried that he hasn't done much of anything in his first 100 days...."
Who's gonna pay? Mexico!
So it goes, in Trump's fantasyland.
"Remember when Donald Trump used to give rallies and call out to his audience: 'Who's gonna pay for the wall?' and they'd scream back: 'Mexico!' at the top of their voices? Well, if indications are correct, Trump is about to threaten to shut down the government if he doesn't get what he's asking for -- which is forcing American taxpayers to pay for his wall to nowhere. He went from guaranteeing Mexico would pay for his folly to now throwing a tantrum if Congress doesn't force all of us to pay for it, because he never had a plan to make Mexico pay for it in the first place. That's a pretty stunning broken promise, and Trump's only going to call attention to his hypocrisy if he chooses to have this fight next week."
Headline of the week
Nothing like showing our best... um, face... to the world.
"Donald Trump announced he's going to name none other than Scott Brown to be America's ambassador to New Zealand. This prompted one of the biggest newspapers in New Zealand to run one of the best headlines I've seen in a long time: 'Man tipped for US ambassador role in NZ a former nude model who supports waterboarding.' That about sums it up, don't you think?"
Want to save a quick billion?
This isn't going to happen any time soon, but sooner or later someone's going to notice it on Capitol Hill.
"Congress is about to tackle the budget, tax reform, and if rumors are true they're also going to revisit healthcare reform. They should really check out a recent study which shows how they could save a cool billion dollars a year on Medicaid alone. All they'd have to do for these savings to appear would be to approve medical marijuana. That's it. Prescriptions for pain pills would go down, life would get better for patients, and the federal government could pocket a billion dollars a year in savings. Just by making this one change."
He's Hillary's love child!
Open the floodgates! Release the conspiracies!
"While much more media attention was paid to Bill O'Reilly being forced out of a job, we found the news from Representative Jason Chaffetz even more interesting. Chaffetz chairs the House committee whose duty it is to oversee government, and he sure had a fine old time investigating Hillary Clinton within an inch of her life last year. However, since Trump has taken over, Chaffetz has been refusing to investigate anything Donald Trump does. So he's stepping down from the committee, and now it seems he might even just quit Congress before his term is up, ostensibly to run for governor of Utah. But it only seems appropriate that conspiracy theories are now popping up for why Chaffetz is abruptly stepping down. After all, he never met a Hillary conspiracy story that wasn't worth the committee's time to investigate, so turn-about is indeed fair play. There are already unfounded rumors that he's secretly gay or is being blackmailed somehow by the Russians, but surely we can do better than that! Maybe he was raised by Bigfoots! Bigfeet? Whatever... or perhaps he gets regularly probed by aliens on invisible spacecraft? No, wait -- I've got it! He's the secret love-child of Orrin Hatch and Hillary Clinton! I think that's worth investigating, don't you?"
The Washington Post had an amusing article this week on the (ahem) oratory style of the new head of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez. It would have been a lot more amusing, though, if they had run it with a more-accurate title, such as: "Tom Perez Talks Some Shit." Perez was asked about his use of this particular word, and responded very candidly. In fact, our talking point from Perez consists of the only quotes from the article which don't actually contain rough language (you'll have to read it for yourself to see what else he had to say!). Speaking of his penchant for vulgarity, Perez responded:
Talk about ridiculous. I grew up in Buffalo. We're a blunt community. We tell it like it is. I think folks want to hear the straight skinny; they don't want double-talk.
When asked about the Democratic mantra of "when they go low, we go high," though, Perez showed some real backbone -- which is really why we're highlighting his comments this week:
They consistently went low, and you know what? It's a great aspiration to want to turn the other cheek. But my first goal is to make sure we're standing up for our values. And in today's toxic politics, it was clear from Day One that Mitch McConnell's one goal was making Barack Obama a one-term president. We have to fight with a similar relentlessness.
-- Chris Weigant