Enter: Beto O’Bourke

Maybe Joe Hagan quoted the failed Texas senatorial candidate to capture a moment when the man slipped on a banana peel:

For O’Rourke, what followed was a near-mystical experience. “I don’t ever prepare a speech,” he says. “I don’t write out what I’m going to say. I remember driving to that, I was, like, ‘What do I say? Maybe I’ll just introduce myself. I’ll take questions.’ I got in there, and I don’t know if it’s a speech or not, but it felt amazing. Because every word was pulled out of me. Like, by some greater force, which was just the people there. Everything that I said, I was, like, watching myself, being like, How am I saying this stuff? Where is this coming from?

Obama and Reagan and JFK weren’t this obvious about their narcissism.

I’m so sick of this shit. Imagine a woman getting away with it. Imagine Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand declaring empty vessel candidacies that voters can fill.

“Beto” O’Bourke would be a decent vice presidential nominee for any of them, or, better, a terrific opponent for John Cornyn in the 2020 Texas senate race.

Nancy Pelosi should stay

Instinctively obsessed with parity, the Washington press corps turns to classic boilerplate both-sidesism when covering what it thinks is a internecine bloodbath between House Democrats who ran against Nancy Pelosi as speaker and senescent reactionaries. Josh Marshall has the stakes exactly right:

First, I’m ambivalent about Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker again. Turnovers in leadership are good. The dozens of new House Democrats converging on Capitol Hill this week visibly shows the power of generational succession. The Democrats’ current House leadership has been in place for more than 15 years, an extraordinary length of time by historical standards.


There’s a separate matter. Somewhat like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi has been so consistently vilified and caricatured by national Republicans that she has become, objectively, a highly charged figure as the face of national Democrats. We can lament that, think it’s the product of things that are vicious and unfair. I do. But that doesn’t make it not true.


At the same time, there are very few people who understand the inner workings of the House, what caucus leaders do and what she managed to get done between 2007 and 2011 who don’t think she’s a legislative leader of extraordinary ability. She also has critical support from a broad array of the parties different factions, in and out of Congress. As important as anything, Pelosi is tough, something particularly important facing Donald Trump for the next two years.

From my vantage point in a moneyed suburb in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, it’s the fault of Pelosi, Hoyer, et. al. for not promoting a new generation of leaders who’ll replace their septuagenarian asses,a point also raised in Marshall’s essay. Otherwise the argument that Pelosi Must Go makes no sense. At this moment she’s irreplaceable. The smarter young guns who ran on replacing her should follow the lead of Alexandra Ocasio-Sanchez, who staged a protest at the minority leader’s office that strengthened her young-fresh cred.

So keep Nancy Pelosi. The most effective speaker since John W. McCormack is the only person tactically shrewd enough to exploit the awed contempt in which she’s held by the GOP (Paul Ryan and the rest attack her precisely because they understand how good she is at her job), not to mention the skills to pass legislation and reduce talking points to essentials. Let her serve one term as speaker with the promise of letting a younger replacement shadow her — I don’t care. But the moment requires a leader who understands the stakes.

Waving magic wands: the myth of Democratic power

Pressing his ears against the commentariat’s din, Matthew Yglesias comes to obvious conclusions: only a Democratic majority in the Senate could have stopped the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Conversely, Mitch McConnell’s legislative genius, such as it is, consisted in whipping a bare majority. Even in those halcyon days of the sixty-vote filibuster over which Harry Reid presided, Barack Obama got nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan confirmed not because a spirit of benign comity persuaded Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham to vote for them: the Senate confirmed them because he still enjoyed a fifty-plus Democratic majority that could’ve gummed up the works if it wanted to. Reid and Obama didn’t need Collins and Graham.  Continue reading

It’s about time

After yet another Donald Trump supporter gets caught for being the grifter and charlatan he is, Elizabeth Warren’s latest policy proposal makes as much sense as the Pure Food and Drug Act:

In pursuit of ending “both the appearance and the potential for financial conflicts of interest,” Warren’s bill would prohibit federal lawmakers, judges, Cabinet secretaries and other senior congressional staff from owning individual stocks while in office. It would also bar all government officials from holding stocks the value of which might be influenced by their work in office.

“Enough of the spectacle of HHS secretaries and herds of congressmen caught up in insider trading schemes,” Warren said in the speech.

As an apparent alternative to individual stock ownership, the bill would create “conflict-free investment opportunities for federal officials with new investment accounts,” according to a synopsis of the bill obtained by CNBC.

“They can put their savings in conflict-free investments like mutual funds or they can pick a different line of work,” Warren said.

These accounts would be managed by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent agency established during the Reagan administration that boasts fewer than 300 employees.

She calls it the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act. Another provision: forcing candidates to release years of tax returns and thereafter should they win. Warren has a higher probability of passing on malaria than this bill passing Congress before November, but that’s the point: if Dems want, they can run on commonsense ways of dealing with systemic corruption, like they did in 2006 against K Street and Tom DeLay.

The ‘overblown’ fears of Democrats in Trump states

So polarized is our culture that I give Democrats no credit for Working Across the Aisle, not when doing so eviscerates Social Security/Medicare, turns voting rights into a noble idea in a textbook, and turns the First Amendment into a rapier to bury into the hearts of gay and lesbian citizens. In 2016, Donald Trump or more likely his strategists had a plan: increase turnout in a shrinking demographic, compensating with enthusiasm what it will lose in lives. Democrats must focus on their base too, but it’s an expanding one. In 2028 a Democrat seeking office won’t convert a Republican voter by supporting the gutting of reproductive rights; what the Democrat does is alienate other Democratic voters.

But the minds of party solons are not easily changed. In these minds it’s still 1988 and every Democrat is Mike Dukakis. While Chuck Todd delivers the conventional wisdom about Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana “boxed in” as Democratic senators in Trump states, voters have moved on. The essential Jane Mayer reports from the ground:

Nan Aron, the president of Alliance for Justice, a progressive group, who was also involved in the Thomas confirmation fight, agrees. “The conventional wisdom is that a vote against the nominee will hurt Democrats, but the reality that we’ve seen in the past is that it’s sometimes the right vote for Democrats politically. Votes for Thomas deflated the Democratic vote” afterward in some Senate races. As for this year, she says, “Look—Democrats in red states need the progressive base. You don’t need them staying home.”

On Saturday, two progressive groups—Demand Justice, a new organization focussed on judicial issues, and the Center for American Progress—planned to release a poll, conducted in the battleground states of Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia, that seeks to convey a similar message to vulnerable Democratic senators.

According to the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates, Democratic senators may actually be better off politically, even in states that went overwhelmingly to Trump in 2016, if they cast votes against Kavanaugh. The polling data, which was gathered between June 30th and July 5th from about twelve hundred voters in those four states, are, of course, self-serving. But it makes the case that, if Democratic senators in conservative states frame their opposition to Kavanaugh clearly as a matter of conscience, based on one of three possible arguments, a majority of voters will likely accept and support the decision.

The thing is, Tester is doing okay. So is Joe Manchin. Among Democrats oly Manchin, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota voted for the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch last year; Tester, my boy Bill Nelson, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, one of the other endangered Democratic senatorial candidates, voted no. Kavanaugh is as terrible if not worse than Gorsuch. If Nelson has a brains in that ancient skull, he’ll understand how a vote for a future member of this Fuller-era Supreme Court risks the lives of his Floridians. Hoping that the senior in Apalachicola may think, “Gee, isn’t Bill Nelson independent? Might as well vote for him” instead of, “Gee, isn’t Bill Nelson independent? Gonna vote for Rick Scott anyway” is like believing in tax cuts that pay for themselves.