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Derick Dirmaier

Derick Dirmaier is the Director of Product and Creative Development at TPM. Contact him at derick@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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They clashed during the 2016 campaign. But today President Trump visit Pope Francis at the Vatican, only with his family and a few top aides.

Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis during a meeting, Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, looks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as he speak to media at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

May 3, 2017

 

Top Stories


Message To Health Care Holdouts: Relax, The Senate Will Save You

The Gist: Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the vice chair of the powerful Rules Committee, said his message to GOP moderates—who are hesitant to back the bill due to its deep cuts to Medicaid and rollback of protections for people with pre-existing conditions—is: “If you want the pressure off, kick it over to the Senate and let those guys deal with it for a while.”

Trump To Meet With Two Key House GOPers Opposed To O’care Repeal Bill

The Gist: President Donald Trump on Wednesday will meet with two House Republicans, Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), two key Republicans who said this week that they cannot support the Obamacare repeal bill, CNN reported Wednesday morning.

Trump Goes After Clinton, Comey In Late-Night Twitter Attack

The Gist: President Donald Trump on Tuesday night bashed his FBI director, James Comey, and Hillary Clinton, after Clinton placed some blame on the FBI for her loss in the 2016 election.

 

From The Reporter’s Notebook


The Director of the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday endorsed President Donald Trump’s assertion that a “good” government shutdown could knock some sense into Washington, TPM’s Matt Shuham reported. After saying at a press conference that he shared the President’s frustration with the appropriations process, Mick Mulvaney said a “good shutdown” would “be one that fixes this town. One that drives the message back home to people that it really was as broken as they thought that it was when they voted for Donald Trump, and they trusted him — If that’s what is necessary to do to fix Washington, D.C., that would be a good shutdown.”

 

Agree or Disagree?


Josh Marshall: “We are living in a new era of monopolies and one in which anti-trust enforcement is all but doesn’t exist. Monopolies provide bad service at high costs. They stifle innovation. We’re used to this kind of anti-sclerosis, anti-bigness rhetoric coming out of the tech world and Silicon Valley. But two of the biggest monopolists are Google and Facebook. Their monopoly power shows up in different ways. But they’re ways that are no less negative for the economy in general. As we’ll discuss in the coming days, there is also a growing body of hard evidence that the growth of monopolies is one of the drivers of wealth and income inequality.”

 

Say What?!


“People can go to the state that they want to live in.”

– Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) told reporters Tuesday morning when asked if people with pre-existing conditions could be charged much more under the American Health Care Act.

BUZZING: Today in the Hive


From a TPM Prime member: “Without an acceptable replacement plan, Obamacare is not going away. Pushing repeal through reconciliation would be voting to literally take away money used by Americans to buy insurance forcing 20 million to lose their coverage. They don’t have 60 votes to change the insurance regulations in Obamacare, so the private insurance market would collapse and another 10 million would lose coverage. On top of that, hospitals across the country will be closing down. This would be a national disaster on the scale of the 2008 financial crisis. It would be the worst policy decisions in US history and the GOP would take 100% responsibility. It is economic and political suicide.”

Related: Leadership Loses Prominent GOPer’s Support On Obamacare Repeal

Have something to add? Become a Prime member and join the discussion here.

 

What We’re Reading


Too Scared to Report Sexual Abuse. The Fear: Deportation. (New York Times)

How ESPN Became A Conservative Cause (BuzzFeed News)

Our own voters “largely” don’t think your real reason for running for president is evil qualified as good news in this book. The book is filled with similar scenes of brutal unintentional comedy.

In May of 2015, as Hillary was planning her first major TV interview – an address the campaign hoped would put to rest criticism Hillary was avoiding the press over the burgeoning email scandal – communications chief Jennifer Palmieri asked Huma Abedin to ask Hillary who she wanted to conduct the interview. (There are a lot of these games of “telephone” in the book, as only a tiny group of people had access to the increasingly secretive candidate.)

The answer that came back was that Hillary wanted to do the interview with “Brianna.” Palmieri took this to mean CNN’s Brianna Keilar, and worked to set up the interview, which aired on July 7th of that year.

Unfortunately, Keilar was not particularly gentle in her conduct of the interview. Among other things, she asked Hillary questions like, “Would you vote for someone you didn’t trust?” An aide describes Hillary as “staring daggers” at Keilar. Internally, the interview was viewed as a disaster.

It turns out now it was all a mistake. Hillary had not wanted Brianna Keilar as an interviewer, but Bianna Golodryga of Yahoo! News, an excellent interviewer in her own right, but also one who happens to be the spouse of longtime Clinton administration aide Peter Orszag.

This “I said lunch, not launch!” slapstick mishap underscored for the Clinton campaign the hazards of venturing one millimeter outside the circle of trust. In one early conference call with speechwriters, Clinton sounded reserved:

“Though she was speaking with a small group made up mostly of intimates, she sounded like she was addressing a roomful of supporters – inhibited by the concern that whatever she said might be leaked to the press.”

This traced back to 2008, a failed run that the Clintons had concluded was due to the disloyalty and treachery of staff and other Democrats. After that race, Hillary had aides create “loyalty scores” (from one for most loyal, to seven for most treacherous) for members of Congress. Bill Clinton since 2008 had “campaigned against some of the sevens” to “help knock them out of office,” apparently to purify the Dem ranks heading into 2016.

Beyond that, Hillary after 2008 conducted a unique autopsy of her failed campaign. This reportedly included personally going back and reading through the email messages of her staffers:

“She instructed a trusted aide to access the campaign’s server and download the messages sent and received by top staffers. … She believed her campaign had failed her – not the other way around – and she wanted ‘to see who was talking to who, who was leaking to who,’ said a source familiar with the operation.”

Some will say this Nixonesque prying into her staff’s communications will make complaints about leaked emails ring a little hollow.

Who knows about that. Reading your employees’ emails isn’t nearly the same as having an outsider leak them all over the world. Still, such a criticism would miss the point, which is that Hillary was looking in the wrong place for a reason for her 2008 loss. That she was convinced her staff was at fault makes sense, as Washington politicians tend to view everything through an insider lens.

Most don’t see elections as organic movements within populations of millions, but as dueling contests of “whip-smart” organizers who know how to get the cattle to vote the right way. If someone wins an election, the inevitable Beltway conclusion is that the winner had better puppeteers.

Hillary Clinton
Clinton accepting the Democratic nomination. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty
The Clinton campaign in 2016, for instance, never saw the Bernie Sanders campaign as being driven by millions of people who over the course of decades had become dissatisfied with the party. They instead saw one cheap stunt pulled by an illegitimate back-bencher, foolishness that would be ended if Sanders himself could somehow be removed.

“Bill and Hillary had wanted to put [Sanders] down like a junkyard dog early on,” Allen and Parnes wrote. The only reason they didn’t, they explained, was an irritating chance problem: Sanders “was liked,” which meant going negative would backfire.

Hillary had had the same problem with Barack Obama, with whom she and her husband had elected to go heavily negative in 2008, only to see that strategy go very wrong. “It boomeranged,” as it’s put in Shattered.

The Clinton campaign was convinced that Obama won in 2008 not because he was a better candidate, or buoyed by an electorate that was disgusted with the Iraq War. Obama won, they believed, because he had a better campaign operation – i.e., better Washingtonian puppeteers. In The Right Stuff terms, Obama’s Germans were better than Hillary’s Germans.

They were determined not to make the same mistake in 2016. Here, the thought process of campaign chief Robby Mook is described:

“Mook knew that Hillary viewed almost every early decision through a 2008 lens: she thought almost everything her own campaign had done was flawed and everything Obama’s had done was pristine.”

Since Obama had spent efficiently and Hillary in 2008 had not, this led to spending cutbacks in the 2016 race in crucial areas, including the hiring of outreach staff in states like Michigan. This led to a string of similarly insane self-defeating decisions. As the book puts it, the “obsession with efficiency had come at the cost of broad voter contact in states that would become important battlegrounds.”

If the ending to this story were anything other than Donald Trump being elected president, Shattered would be an awesome comedy, like a Kafka novel – a lunatic bureaucracy devouring itself. But since the ending is the opposite of funny, it will likely be consumed as a cautionary tale.

Shattered is what happens when political parties become too disconnected from their voters. Even if you think the election was stolen, any Democrat who reads this book will come away believing he or she belongs to a party stuck in a profound identity crisis. Trump or no Trump, the Democrats need therapy – and soon.

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