Friday Talking Points -- More Cracks In The Democratic Dam

[ Posted Friday, July 19th, 2024 – 17:27 UTC ]

The political message of this week was that Republicans are unified behind their presidential nominee Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Democrats are increasingly fractured, unsure of who they even want at the top of their ticket.

The Democratic dam didn't exactly break today, but it is getting a whole lot weaker as time goes by. A third sitting Democratic senator called for President Joe Biden to step aside and make way for someone else to run, in addition to nine more Democratic House members -- the largest one-day total yet. To date, a full 35 congressional Democrats have now done so. Biden is currently quarantining at his home in Delaware (suffering from his third case of COVID-19), and so far shows no signs of heeding the call to turn the reins of the campaign over to anyone else.

[Note: while writing this column, two more Democrats joined the call for Biden to step down, including a fourth Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown. This puts the total at 37, as we write this.]

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Pelosi's Bombshell

[ Posted Thursday, July 18th, 2024 – 17:10 UTC ]

[Program Note: This column was, pretty obviously, written in two segments. I was all set to solely write about the Republican National Convention today, but while I was busy doing that the Washington Post dropped a bombshell report under the headline: "Pelosi Has Told House Democrats That Biden May Soon Be Persuaded To Exit Race." So once again, the GOP convention news has been completely overshadowed by the Biden-on-the-brink news from the Democratic side of politics. Due to this stunning development, I abandoned my plans halfway through the column, but left in what I had written so far.]


After diligently watching three nights of the Republican National Convention, I guess it is time to write a full column about it all. Because last night served as a buildup to the introduction of Senator J.D. Vance, Donald Trump's selection for his running mate.

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Schiff Calls On Biden To End His Campaign

[ Posted Wednesday, July 17th, 2024 – 16:51 UTC ]

The second night of the Republican National Convention is now over, and once again I am finding it hard to provide any sort of comprehensive review. Ted Cruz spoke. Do you really want to read a rundown of all the odious things he said? Yeah, me neither. I will sum the experience up with a description by one of the New York Times journalists, who notably called him: "The human oil slick Ted Cruz...." That seems about right. Last night seemed to be the "night of the also-rans," with Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley all swallowing their pride and bowing down to the man who beat them in the primaries. Haley has now completed a full flip-flop-flip, since she started out by swearing she wouldn't run if Donald Trump did, then turned around and ran anyway, and now she is back on his side again. Pretty much par for her course, really, as she has always been somewhat of a weather vane, twisting and spinning in the prevailing Republican winds. What else happened? The governor of West Virginia brought his bulldog on stage, to the delight of the crowd, and Trump showed up in person again to watch the show. Some delegates have taken to wearing mock ear bandages, which could be a new MAGA fashion trend. The whole "kinder, gentler convention" idea went straight out the window, as speaker after speaker tossed red Republican meat to the crowd. That's about it for my reactions, really.

Across the aisle, Democrats are making news once again, but not in any kind of good way. Representative Adam Schiff -- who is almost certainly going to be California's next senator -- today added his voice to the chorus calling for President Joe Biden to drop his re-election campaign. This brings the total number of congressional Democrats who have done so up to 23 (22 in the House, plus one senator). These are not exactly overwhelming numbers, but Schiff's announcement today was the first one since Trump's attempted assassination on Saturday, which might be a green light for others to now speak up as well.

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The Other Political News

[ Posted Tuesday, July 16th, 2024 – 16:53 UTC ]

So the Republican National Convention got underway yesterday, capped by a cameo appearance by Donald Trump, with bandaged ear. The biggest news from the convention was the announcement that Senator J.D. Vance would be Trump's running mate, but Trump's surprise appearance was definitely the most memorable moment of the night. The other big surprise last night was hearing from a Union boss (Teamsters), which is not exactly a usual thing at a Republican convention (to put it mildly). Is Trump (and now Vance) truly shifting the Republican Party to a more populist outlook, or was it more of a "let's make the Democrats scared" type of stunt? It's impossible to say, really. The Union boss did get the key speaking slot (he was the last big speech of the night) and was allowed to speak for at least 15 minutes (which is a long speech for a convention). The applause was pretty tepid, though, as plenty of GOP delegates are not exactly friendly to Unions in general.

But instead of a play-by-play of yesterday's convention I am going to write primarily about Democrats today. Because there was big news from the other side of the aisle as well.

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Trump Moves To Center Stage

[ Posted Monday, July 15th, 2024 – 16:15 UTC ]

After a two-week detour through the landscape of Democratic angst, Donald Trump has once again reclaimed the center stage of the political world. President Joe Biden will be interviewed on NBC tonight, but this will likely become no more than a footnote in a dramatic week for Trump and the Republican Party.

Part of this shift in focus was planned, as the Republican National Convention gets underway in Milwaukee today, but the most dramatic event was not. Donald Trump survived an assassination attempt in a small town in Pennsylvania over the weekend, as his ear was apparently grazed by a bullet fired at him from a roof overlooking his rally. One spectator was killed and two seriously injured in the attack. This is likely to generate some sympathy for Trump, although assassination attempts are rare enough that it's impossible to say what the political effect will be. One thing that's certain is that it will become a central focus at the convention.

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Friday Talking Points -- Democrats In Limbo

[ Posted Friday, July 12th, 2024 – 16:37 UTC ]

Well, that was another week mostly wasted.

This isn't just our opinion, either. Here is what Biden campaign chair Jen O'Malley Dillon had to say in an all-staff call yesterday:

We had two very, very, very hard weeks, very bad weeks. I told you I'd level with you; they've been bad fucking weeks. This two-week window has really sucked, and it is hard, there is no doubt about it.

This week began (since our weeks here are divided by when this column is published) with President Joe Biden sitting down for an interview with George Stephanopoulos last Friday night. The whole thing lasted only 22 minutes, and while Biden did do a better job than he did at his trainwreck of a debate, that's not really saying much.

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Reviewing Biden's Press Conference

[ Posted Thursday, July 11th, 2024 – 18:57 UTC ]

President Joe Biden just gave a solo press conference today. Before it took place, the media had a lot of time to kill, due to the presser being postponed multiple times (it finally began just before 7:30 Eastern, almost two hours after it was scheduled). The most cogent comment I heard from the pundits was someone essentially saying that it could be a "break" moment (if Biden did badly), but that it probably wouldn't be a "make" moment, since no matter how good Biden did the fears will not be completely put to rest -- we'll just be in a sort of endless cycle of every unscripted appearance by Biden becoming its own make-or-break moment on its own. That seemed about right, to me, and it still seems right after watching Biden's performance.

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Will Other Democrats Clear The Field For Harris?

[ Posted Wednesday, July 10th, 2024 – 16:01 UTC ]

In all the speculation about what the Democratic "Plan B" could be (should President Joe Biden decide not to continue his run for re-election), so far there are really only two basic scenarios: an open convention, with multiple candidates vying for the nomination; or, conversely, Biden anointing Vice President Kamala Harris to stand in for him. But there are now two interesting developments which could be an indication of some possible party unity on the horizon. This is only a mere possibility right now -- it is in no way guaranteed -- but if it happened, it might be the best option possible for the Democratic Party.

The first development was that Michigan's Governor Gretchen Whitmer was directly asked in a recent interview if she would consider running for the presidential nomination, if Joe Biden stepped down. Her answer was an unequivocal: "No." The second development came when California's Governor Gavin Newsom was asked about a previous commitment he had made last year; that he would not run against his fellow Californian Kamala Harris for the presidency. When asked if Newsom still felt that way, he responded: "Of course, yes."

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Biden Toughs It Out

[ Posted Tuesday, July 9th, 2024 – 16:21 UTC ]

President Joe Biden isn't going anywhere, he insists. He remains committed to his candidacy and is confident that he will indeed beat Donald Trump in November. And his strategy of toughing it out against all the critics calling for him to step away from the race appears to be paying off -- at least so far.

This morning, House Democrats held a party caucus meeting, but afterwards not a whole lot changed. The number of House Democrats who have publicly called for Biden to get out of the race increased by two -- to seven -- with an additional three who called for the same thing in a private call with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Sunday. This adds up to 10 Democrats, out of a total of over 210 in the House. That is less than five percent.

Senate Democrats met later in the day and also did not emerge from their meeting with any sort of cohesive stance. To date, there have been zero Democratic senators publicly calling for Biden to end his campaign (although a number have expressed their reservations about Biden staying, without explicitly calling him to get out). In other words, the situation hasn't changed appreciably even after both caucuses met. Having Biden remain as the party's nominee is either gaining traction in the rank-and-file, or perhaps people are taking a "wait and see" approach, at least for now.

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A Tense Week Ahead

[ Posted Monday, July 8th, 2024 – 15:59 UTC ]

Will President Joe Biden's re-election candidacy survive the week? That is the question on every Democrat's mind right now, as the forces line up both pro and con. Whatever happens, it pretty much has to happen soon. If Biden does somehow survive this week, then his chances of riding out the entire "Pass the torch, Joe" storm will have increased, that much seems somewhat certain. But with Congress back in session, all the elected national Democrats will be in one place again, and in both the House and Senate they are planning on holding very tense caucus meetings tomorrow.

It's probably going to come down to the weight of the numbers. So far, to date, nine House members have pretty much declared themselves on the "pass the torch" side. Five of them have done so with public statements, and the other four did so in a virtual meeting with the ranking committee members that Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries held yesterday. But there have also been a growing number of House Democrats who are (so far, at any rate) forcefully pushing back on the notion and swearing their continued wholehearted support for Biden. The line has been drawn, and we'll just have to see how many of them wind up on which side of it.

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