Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Jan 24, 2017

The Fix's Aaron Blake chats with readers in his weekly politics chat series.

You all like nice today, if I do say so myself.

Let's do it.

Do you foresee a time in America when folks who call themselves Democrats or Progressives.. take responsibility for the people they nominate and.. the elections they lose? Go Yoda!

Neither side is very good at this, although I do think the GOP was pretty good about acknowledging their systemic problems after 2012.

I do think Clinton was just not as good a candidate as they wanted her to be. The idea of her was always better than the execution.

Adele Naseem just called (John Travolta joke there). She says you should just "Let it Go".

I miss Adele Naseem jokes. I feel like we should bring them back.

I hope the media is able to properly analyze the GOP alternatives and compare them with Trump's promises.

I think you can count on it. And when the estimates don't meet Trump's promises -- as they can't, because he has promised the moon -- it will be derided as negative coverage.

Who do you think will be the first Trump staffer to hear this?

I don't know anything about what's happening behind the scenes with Spicer -- and there are plenty of anonmymous reports -- but if there is one job that is going to be massively difficult in the Trump Administration, it's press secretary. It was a thankless job to begin with, and Trump's penchant for controversy and bogus claims just makes it moreso.

Hey Aaron, So do you think that all the Democrats and liberals pointing to HRCs total vote margin and declaring majority should rule will support the Senate enacting majority rules by nuking the filibuster? I mean they'll support it in principle, if not in spirit, right?

I do think the "Clinton won the popular vote so Trump isn't legitimate" argument is faulty. We have an electoral college. That's how the game is played. We can't know how a popular vote election might have differed.

But I'm not sure how many people are making the argument that she SHOULD be president, versus just arguing that Trump's mandate isn't very big.

What will the inauguration for president-elect Trump look like compared to previous presidents (Obama, Bush 43, etc.)

This question came in late after last week's chat. Haha. If we only knew back then...

So when are you and Bump going to write competing New Dad-ism opinion columns? Or maybe just a photo/chart post comparing beautiful babies? Seriously tho-Do you dudes compare 'New Dad' notes? I'm sure The Fix has ALLLLLL the answers :)

I can see a joint Blake-Bump Dad Blog launching in the near future. I did once write a dating column (anonymously) in college! My name was Dr. Date. (No lie.)

Some took issue with Trump criticizing those in his presence during his speech. Isn't that the same as Obama criticizing the Supreme Court while they were sitting right in front of him?

As I recall, there was some blowback for Obama doing that at his State of the Union. Not sure how comparable it was.

Are some Democrats ticked that Trump stole this issue?

I don't think we can overestimate how much of a free trade paradigm shift we've seen here. The GOP base is on-board with Trump on this, but I imagine it still gives the party of free markets and business heartburn. We'll see what happens if he really goes after NAFTA; that'll be the big one.

Seems like the media's been on a bit of a streak of incorrect or sketchy Trump reporting: MLK bust, Rick Perry not knowing about DOE's nuclear role, Mnuchin foreclosing on 90 year old widow for pennies, calling Gelernter anti-intellectual, Acosta caught badgering MLK III to say bad things about Trump, claiming there's "no evidence" re inauguration streaming totals without bothering to contact the companies streaming for stats, citing CREW as an "ethics watchdog" --- 2 days after reporting on Brock's revenge plan -- without noting he was at CREW until 5 seconds ago.... I could go on. What is going on? Is everyone just in a hurry or is there some mass hysteria? I fear this just inoculates Trump from legitimate, accurate reporting later and further erodes public trust in the media.

Given the climate of the Trump-media relationship right now, we all need to be VERY vigilant about not giving people who hate the media a reason to. Unforced errors certainly undermine our credibility. The MLK thing, in particular, hurts us, and when I first saw that, I knew it would be a regular talking point.

I think the rush of the constant news environment does lead to some errors like this. But that shouldn't be an excuse. We need to check before we report stuff like that.

There was blowback from the media when Obama criticized the Supreme Court sitting right in front of him at the State of The Union?

I do remember it being a topic of conversation about whether that was appropriate or not -- especially given Alito's reaction.

Whether it was comparable, I don't know.

That's what I think Conservatives got with trump. Sure his cabinet and Supreme Court choices will likely please them. But it seems like Reagan Era small government conservatism is no longer a driving force in the Republican Party. Do you agree?

100 percent. They got a populist guy who is going to borrow and spend to Make America Great Again. It's one of the most undersold storylines of the four years ahead.

Is anyone seriously pushing to get rid of the electoral college? I'm not a political scholar-- I just don't see how it benefits the nation at this point.

Yes, and it picked up after the election. But it's just not happening, as I explained

We knew that most of his supporters would support him no matter what, but at some point his behavior will have to exhaust even them, right??

I've stopped predicting these things. But I do wonder if some were willing to see the good in him as a candidate and thought some of the bad was just for show. Now the rubber hits the road.

But it didn't teach them anything in 2016, did it? The trump thing was something that the powers that be did *not* want at all.

I bet if you asked them today, they would swear Rubio would have won by 5 and Jeb would have won by 10. That might be overly optimistic, but I don't think they see Trump's win as an affirmation of his political style. And truthfully I'm not sure I do. It was a close race.

I can't believe how bad of a screw up this was. The reporter had an obstructed view but decided to file a story anyway? What were they thinking? As if this administration needs any more reason to demonize the media.

It's definitely something that should have been checked before it was put in the pool report. And the reporter recognizes that.

Given the anti-Trump administration of every WaPo article that came up in my Facebook feed this morning, I can see where they have a point about the negative press coverage.

I think the press do need to be wary of being overly negative, but as I just wrote, I think Trump also invites this upon himself. He basically seems to beg for it.

Yesterday was a good example. Spicer gave a strong and impassioned plea to the media to stop being so negative and said it was "demoralizing." Then hours later, Trump makes his ridiculous claim about 3-5 million illegal votes.

The Trump team could stamp out much of this negative coverage if they wanted to. Trump doesn't seem to want to.

Can you imagine a day when media types stop attempting to predict the future? See: There are no $B-aire handicappers.

I think there's a fine line between analyzing where things stand and what that has historically meant, and predicting the future. We all crossed over that line a few too many times last year.

Bad is in the eye of the beholder. Trump's supporters like the aggressive way he's bringing the change they voter for. Is the media missing this?

The media has missed this, certainly. In a big way. But it's also true that polling has shown even lots of his supporters were concerned about his comments about the judge of Mexican descent and the disabled New York Times reporter and his temperament, among other things -- as many as 4 in 10 of them.

They decided that first thing was more important; it doesn't mean they don't have reservations.

How big of a deal is it that the administration is now just talking about health insurance "access" vs "coverage." Seems a small word change that is a pretty huge difference.

It's a very big difference, and I think we'll soon have a huge discussion about it. 

It also says a lot about the difference between the two parties. Republicans don't like government mandates, but they might be required to actually drive down costs (since you need to have young, healthy people in your insurance pools).

Do you think the media should collectively announce that bashing the kids of presidents is off limits?

1,000 percent. It's never okay.

What do you make of the woman who kept berating a Trump supporter sitting next to her on a plane? (and the applause when she was removed from the plane?)

I think that the more we berate people for supporting things that nearly half of the country supported, the worse our political dialogue is going to become. There seems to be a sense sometimes on the left that most of the people who support Republicans are extremists or are stupid, and on the right that people on the left are all nanny-staters. I think that's why Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment was such a bad idea. We could all spend some time trying to relate more to our political opposites.

So that's it? The reporter falsely writing re the MLK bust says "oops, sorry" and all is OK? Is the media tone deaf? Not holding their own accountable makes them all even less trustworthy.

Nope. It's not all okay. But at least it was corrected and the error was acknowledged. That should be the standard for everyone who says something incorrect.

"We shall Overcomb"

Not bad.

To clarify - I believe you mean it isn't ok for minors, right? Examining and critiquing the actions of adult children should be permissible.

Yes. And certainly for adults if they are in the political arena.

The minor kids are off limits. Eric, Junior and Ivanka and her husband can fend for themselves.


How come when Obama talked about the problems he saw in this country the media didn't call it dark?

I'm not sure he ever spoke about large-scale "American carnage?" 

A lot of media bashers writing in today. You are being very patient with them, but they need to acknowledge that the current administration came into office with a real chip on its collective shoulders regarding the media. It is not the media's job to fling hosannas in the wake of alternative facts, or refrain from tough questioning that might upset someone's tender ego.

I like these conversations about the media, and people like me should have to think about these things.

But I agree with much of this. Trump is doing things that are objectively controversial and factually untrue. They must be covered as such. And the American people, who generally approve of presidents-elect, certainly perceive something different here too.

Perhaps the fault was with the Trump supporter, who apparently made that fact evident. The berater would never have known otherwise. Lesson: Keep your political views to yourself while on airplanes (and all forms of public transit).

I'm not sure that's the answer. Free expression of political views is important. And if people love Trump or Clinton and any other politician, more power to them.

Politics may not be great for the dinner table or in close, confined quarters like an airplane, but the real solution is a more respectful dialogue.

So, he can say Trump's statements are lies, but the national media is not allowed to do so?

Some are starting to. It's a judgment call.

I'm still not comfortable with it. It implies knowing his motive, and I simply don't. I can only guess and evaluate based on his track record. 

I also don't think calling them "lies" is going to change anything about this entire debate besides satiating his critics.

hope and unity when he was inaugurated. What I heard last week was America First and gloom.

Yeah, part of it is context. An inaugural is a time for setting your vision for the future and how you see things, and Trump's was demonstrably darker than most any we've seen. Speaking about dark things in other contexts might not have struck us as particularly unusual.

Mary Katherine Hamm (and Bob Woodward) says that Trump has a legitimate bone to pick with the CIA re leaks. Does he?

Sure. These are things that aren't supposed to leak out. I think he often takes it too far, though, and distracts from that very fair argument.

Thanks everyone for coming out! Until next Tuesday at noon...

In This Chat
Aaron Blake
Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes and edits for The Fix. A Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Aaron has also written about politics for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Hill newspaper. Aaron lives with his wife, baby son and trusty dog, Mauer, in Northern Virginia.
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