How to get away with in in politics

I think we’ve learned something from Trump’s history of escaping scandal that would bring down pretty much any other politician and Drum is right on top of it:

So here’s where we are:

Phase 1: Nothing happened.

Phase 2: It doesn’t matter what I said.

Phase 3: I may have mentioned Biden.

Phase 4: It’s possible the president threatened to cut off aid to Ukraine.

The goal here is to admit to an impeachable act, but to do it slowly enough that each revelation isn’t quite enough to cause Trump’s supporters to bolt. Then, by the time the whole story is out, they’ve already defended pretty much every detail and have no choice but to stay on his side. And with that, Trump has successfully shot someone on Fifth Avenue and gotten away with it.

And just for laughs, here’s how Fox News is covering Ukrainegate this morning. This is their entire coverage with nothing left out, screencapped for posterity:

How do we know this works?  It worked on Russia, which started out as “no contact whatsoever” went to “no collusion” and then basically, “what’s your problem with collusion anyway?”  And, honesty, I’m pretty sure something similar would happen if he did shoot someone on 5th Avenue.

Red Economy vs. Blue Economy

Really interesting piece from Brookings filled cool maps, charts, and statistical info…

Not only are red and blue America experiencing two different economies, but those economies are diverging fast. In fact, radical change is transforming the two parties’ economies in real time. Which is a key takeaway of a new data analysis—published today—that we developed with the Wall Street Journal’s Aaron Zitner and Dante Chinni.

What do the new numbers show exactly? Based on standard economic data linked to recent congressional district outcomes that we have tracked over time, the Journal/Brookings analysis depicts above all the extreme pace in which the economies of the two parties’ districts are changing in this decade.

Some of the change is already familiar based on how the map of congressional vote outcomes has evolved in the last decade:

Map 1

In the 111th Congress in 2008, Democratic-voting, often-urban districts encompassed 39% of U.S. land area compared with the 61% expanse of Republican districts. By the 116th Congress, just ten years later, the Democratic share had fallen to 20% of the map, with Republicans’ expanse rising to 80% of the nation’s land area. [emphases mine] Certainly, those numbers point to economic change, although they also reflect gerrymandering and the low population density of rural areas…


With their output surging as a result of the big-city tilt of the decade’s “winner-take-most” economy, Democratic districts have seen their median household income soar in a decade—from $54,000 in 2008 to $61,000 in 2018. By contrast, the income level in Republican districts began slightly higher in 2008, but then declined from $55,000 to $53,000…

Looking deeper, it’s clear that big shifts in industry geography and composition are driving the parties’ changes of identity. Look at the matrix of 10-year trends depicted here:

Figure 2

Democratic districts, for example, have grown significantly more dynamic in the last decade. Overall, “blue” territories have seen their productivity climb from $118,000 per worker in 2008 to $139,000 in 2018 as recent demographic changes and electoral sorting ensured they became better educated and more urban. Republican-district productivity, by contrast, remains stuck at about $110,000, reflecting only slight improvements of bachelor’s degree attainment and Republicans’ increasingly non-metro domain.

Relatedly, and equally striking, Democratic districts are rapidly increasing their dominance of the nation’s urban-tilting professional and digital services employment while ceding their historical, more rural shares of manufacturing and agriculture-mining activity…

It could be, instead, that the nation is only heading deeper into a period of continued stand-off, where economic change reinforces cultural backlash, and both gerrymandered districts and the Constitution’s allocation of two senators for every state prop up the political power of a declining fraction of the economy. If that’s how the politics of the decade’s changing economy are going to play out, then political analyst Ron Brownstein may be right that the nation may be heading deeper into an era of sustained turbulence that “pits what America has been against what it is becoming.”


The power of saying the quiet parts out loud

Really loved this take from Ashley Parker— I think she’s got it exactly right:

Ukraine, if you’re listening . . .

Much as he did three years ago — when he asked Russia to hack the emails of his Democratic rival — President Trump on Friday seemed to make a similar request of Ukraine, all but urging the Eastern European nation to investigate Joe Biden, his potential Democratic opponent.

“It doesn’t matter what I discussed, but I will say this — somebody ought to look into Joe Biden,” Trump said Friday in the Oval Office, swatting away questions about whether he had improperly attempted to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on the former vice president.

It was 2016 all over again, when Trump looked directly into the camera and exhorted a geopolitical foe to steal the emails of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival, and release them to the public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said in July of that year, referring to the trove of messages that Clinton deleted from a private email server. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

For Trump, controversial public disclosures have became almost routine, with the president saying the potentially scandalous part aloud. It is a form of shamelessness worn as a badge of protection — on the implicit theory that the president’s alleged offenses can’t be that serious if he commits them in full public view. [emphasis mine]

Yes!!!  As so many observers have pointed out, all the information in plain sight is incredibly damning. But, pretty much always and forever, politicians don’t confess in plain sight to wrongdoing and malfeasance.  So, when we have a president who does (exhibit A, basically admitting obstruction of justice to Lester Holt).  So, when you have a president who does act this way, so much of the media literally doesn’t even know how to respond and it really does get covered that it cannot be that serious of the president admitted it.  Here’s the thing, though… it can be.

“If This Isn’t Impeachable, Nothing Is”

I figured I’d just take Tom Nichols‘ title as well as quoting him extensively:

The president of the United States reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against an American citizen who might challenge him for his office. This is the single most important revelation in a scoop by The Wall Street Journal, and if it is true, then President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately.

Until now, there was room for reasonable disagreement over impeachment as both a matter of politics and a matter of tactics. The Mueller report revealed despicably unpatriotic behavior by Trump and his minions, but it did not trigger a political judgment with a majority of Americans that it warranted impeachment. The Democrats, for their part, remained unwilling to risk their new majority in Congress on a move destined to fail in a Republican-controlled Senate…

As the Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko told the Daily Beast when asked about the president’s apparent requests, “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.”…

In this matter, we need not rely on a newspaper account, nor even on the complaint, so far unseen, of a whistle-blower. Instead, we have a sweaty, panicked admission on national television by Trump’s bizarre homunculus, Rudy Giuliani, that he did in fact seek such an investigation on Trump’s behalf. Giuliani later again confirmed Trump’s role, tweeting that a “President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job.”

Let us try, as we always find ourselves doing in the age of Trump, to think about how Americans might react if this happened in any other administration. Imagine, for example, if Bill Clinton had called his friend, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in 1996, and asked him to investigate Bob Dole. Or if George W. Bush had called, say, President Vicente Fox of Mexico in 2004 and asked him—indeed, asked him eight times, according to The Wall Street Journal—to open a case against John Kerry. Clinton, of course, was eventually impeached for far less than that. Is there any doubt that either man would have been put on trial in the Senate, and likely chased from office?… [emphases mine]

The problem for Giuliani, the Republicans, and the president himself, however, is that Biden and his actions are now irrelevant to the offenses committed by Trump. The accusations against Joe Biden are false, as we know from multiple fact checks and from the Ukrainians themselves (which is why I won’t deign to repeat them here). But even to argue over this fable about Biden is to miss the point, because it changes nothing about Trump’s attempts to enmesh Biden in a foreign investigation for Trump’s own purposes.

There is no spin, no deflection, no alternative theory of the case that can get around the central fact that President Trump reportedly attempted to use his office for his own gain, and that he put the foreign policy and the national security of the United States at risk while doing so. He ignored his duty as the commander in chief by intentionally trying to place an American citizen in jeopardy with a foreign government. He abandoned his obligations to the Constitution by elevating his own interests over the national interest. By comparison, Watergate was a complicated judgment call…

I am speaking only for myself as an American citizen. I believe in our Constitution, and therefore I must accept that Donald Trump is the president and the commander in chief until the Congress or the people of the United States say otherwise. But if this kind of dangerous, unhinged hijacking of the powers of the presidency is not enough for either the citizens or their elected leaders to demand Trump’s removal, then we no longer have an accountable executive branch, and we might as well just admit that we have chosen to elect a monarch and be done with the illusion of constitutional order in the United States.

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