Tina Nguyen/Vanity Fair:
TRUMP’S LIES ARE BECOMING EXPONENTIALLY MORE BRAZEN
Holding court on the White House lawn Monday, Trump revealed new depths of contempt for objective reality—and offered a master class in how the most obvious lies destroy the very notion of truth, itself.
Trump, at the very, very least, appeared to walk back an earlier fairy tale from Sunday, when he had baselessly asserted that he was “studying very deeply, around the clock, a major tax cut for middle-income people” that would come in “sometime around the first of November, maybe a little before that.” The one problem: Congress is not in session until after the election, and indeed, media outlets quickly reported that nobody in Washington had any idea what Trump was talking about. “I’m going through Congress. We won’t have time to do the vote,” he said Monday, barreling through the sort of quotidian, blatant falsehood that might have been a major, years-long scandal for another president. The full conversation needs to be seen to be believed, or not, as the case may be:
Daniel Dale/Toronto Star:
Donald Trump’s strategy as midterms approach: lies and fear-mongering
Democrats will kick seniors off their health insurance. Democrats will end insurance protections for people with health problems. Democrats will destroy the Social Security retirement system. Democrats will give illegal immigrants free cars. Democrats will abolish America’s borders. Democrats are behind the latest migrant caravan from Latin America. That caravan includes people from the Middle East.
False, false, false, false, false, false, false.
Voting, voting, voting!!!
David Catanese/USA Today:
The Early Voting Explosion
Some states are already reporting presidential-level turnout for this midterm election.
Democrats usually suffer in midterm elections because many of their most crucial constituencies, like young voters, decline to participate. A higher turnout in Tennessee doesn't mean success for Bredesen, but a lower overall turnout would likely doom his campaign.
Florida Democrats were happy to simply celebrate a smaller GOP early ballot lead. While Democratic ballots still trail Republicans by about 6 percentage points, their deficit was 14 points at this same juncture in the 2014 midterms. Highly competitive races for governor and U.S. Senate are likely to produce high turnout in the Sunshine State, though ballots in pockets of the Panhandle are expected to lag due to the continued recovery from Hurricane Michael's aftermath.
But don’t get carried away.
Sigh. I guess everyone is going to overreact to early-voting numbers again. Here are all the ways that can go wrong:
1. We don't actually know how early voters voted; we just know what party they're registered with, and there's no guarantee that they voted for that party's candidate, especially in states where voter reg is weird like Ohio.
2. We don't know how independent early voters are voting. A 40–30% Democratic EV lead is meaningless if all the independents vote for Republicans.
3. We don't know if Democratic enthusiasm in the 1st week of early voting is part of an overall rise in Democratic interest that will continue through the end of EV, or if they are just people who would've voted anyway voting early because they're so pumped.
David A. Hopkins/Honest Graft:
Why the 2018 Election Won't "All Come Down to Turnout"
The claim that an upcoming election "all comes down to turnout" is one of the most venerable clichés in American punditry. But it's become more popular than ever in an era when the mass public is commonly characterized as consisting of two implacable partisan tribes, equally unshakable in their preferences and aversions. If virtually every potential voter is a loyal member of either the red team or the blue team, the outcome of a national election is presumably determined simply by which party can motivate its supporters to participate at the highest rate.
Swing voters are indeed less numerous than they used to be
, and the geographic polarization of the American electorate
has reduced the number of states and congressional districts that are politically competitive in any given contest. But at a time when the two major parties are closely matched in national strength, the voters who remain open to persuasion continue to hold a lot of electoral power. And it's far from clear whether there will be a large enough difference in the participation rates of committed Democrats and Republicans for turnout to be the primary factor deciding the 2018 election.
To be sure, evidence is piling up that Democratic voters are unusually mobilized this year compared to the recent past. A September survey by the Pew Research Center
found that 67 percent of Democratic supporters reported being "more enthusiastic than usual" about voting—a much higher rate than Pew found in either 2014 (36 percent) or 2010 (42 percent). Turnout in Democratic primary elections surged to 23 million voters
in 2018, up from 14 million in 2014. And the astounding fundraising totals reported by Democratic congressional candidates
, fueled by an unprecedented explosion of small-dollar contributions by individual donors, surely reflects an unusual degree of engagement among politically attentive Democratic citizens—and also ensures a series of generously-funded Democratic get-out-the-vote operations from one end of the country to the other.
But 2010 and 2014 were both unusually poor elections for the Democratic Party nationwide. Improved Democratic participation in 2018 compared to the two most recent midterms may prevent another disastrous performance, but it hardly guarantees a blue wave. And while Democrats are clearly much more engaged this year than in the recent past, Republicans are not necessarily less
Next time you wonder why New York Times people get so defensive, read this.
One of the joys of having a subscription to the Times is threatening to cancel it. Which is simply to say that a Times loyalist is also a critic. It has always been that way — the Times gets a lot of criticism — but now the situation is growing more tense and anxious.
Recently the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, said something that I believe touched on this anxiety.
We won’t be baited into becoming ‘the opposition.’ And we won’t be applauded into becoming ‘the opposition.’
By “baited” he clearly meant the taunts of people like Steve Bannon and President Trump. By “applauded” he meant, I think, the pressure coming from Times loyalists. For the most part these are people appalled by Trump who want to see him further exposed. They want the Times to be tougher on his supporters and more relentless in calling out his lies. They want Times journalists to see what they see — an assault on democratic institutions, the corruption of the American Republic — and to act accordingly.
But these people are perceived as a threat by the Times newsroom. The fear is that they want to turn the Times into an opposition newspaper. This is not how the Times sees itself. The fear is that they want the Times to help save American democracy. This too is not how the Times sees itself.
'Where is Jared?' no more: Kushner cornered on Saudi debacle
The president’s son-in-law has balanced his reputation with his desire to maintain relations with a Saudi prince who has been accused of ordering a journalist’s execution.
Trump does not believe responsibility for Khashoggi’s death should be laid at his feet, said the Republican — and the president is eager to put the spotlight on the U.S. and Saudi Arabia relationship behind him as he stresses issues like immigration ahead of next month’s midterm elections.
Some Trump allies are doubtful that the issue can be swept aside, however.
“The reality is that I don’t think they can put behind them,” said White House ally and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “If they don’t adopt some type of strong sanctions, then Congress will focus on it and make more noise. It’s just as a matter of national policy.”
Tom Nichols/USA Today:
Presidents sober up under pressures like Khashoggi murder and nuclear treaties. Not Trump.
“It really is true that foreign affairs is the only important issue for a president to handle, isn’t it? I mean, who gives a s--t if the minimum wage is $1.15 or $1.25 in comparison to something like this?”
So said John F. Kennedy in 1961 — to, of all people, his old friend and political enemy Richard Nixon — after Kennedy had just beheld the debacle at the Bay of Pigs. Kennedy had been scarred by disaster, and he needed advice. During the Cuban missile crisis a year later, Kennedy would call Dwight Eisenhower, his predecessor, for counsel. (It is a mark of the recognition of a sitting president’s unique and lonely role that even in private conversation, Kennedy referred to Ike as “General,” while Eisenhower referred to JFK, a man young enough to be his son, as “Mr. President.”)
This is the same lesson every president learns the hard way when faced with foreign affairs and national security decisions. Each chief executive comes to office believing in the things he said in parking lots or high school gyms across the country. But on his first day, he's sobered by the realization that he has the fate of billions of human beings in his hands at every minute of every hour of every day.
All, that is, except President Donald Trump, who seems untouched by any knowledge about foreign affairs and is apparently uneducable on the subject.