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Ask Aaron: The week in politics

Apr 21, 2017

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

I hope everyone's had a wonderful week, and that you're preparing for a relaxing weekend! (Fingers crossed.)

Let's talk some politics.

I mean, which singer are you listening to?

I can't listen to music while I'm writing. This is why Chris and I never got along.

Sorry, I used to ask the other guy that every week.

I am drinking water and eating a tuna melt. Is that exciting or what?

More for ambition (Utah Gov) or "Who needs this?"

Definitely both Column A and Column B. If he leaves early, as it seems he might, I would say more "Who needs this?" than ambition. The guy would be leaving a chairmanship just a couple months into his term.

I know it's a ways to 2020 but do you thinks Trump runs for reelection if everything points to a defeat? Would he rather bow out than take a loss?

I would be completely unsurprised if he decided not to run again. But I think his pride would make it tough if his approval is still really low. It will look like he chickened out.

Who is the leader of the Fix now, and who is on the team? Is the mission the same since Chris left?

Stay tuned!

I'm the senior reporter on the team, and we've still got Cal Borchers, Amber Phillips and Peter Stevenson on videos. We're hiring an editor and pushing forward with the same brand of analysis you've come to expect!

Does it have a chance?

I started skeptical, I've been skeptical, and I'm still skeptical.

What's your take on the comparison photo the NYT Sports account tweeted? Seems like it backfired tremendously

I think if you're going to make those comparisons, you'd better make damn sure they are apples-to-apples.

Who is more blind to common sense, Pepsi or Jeff Sessions?

I mean, I get that Hawaii is literally "an island in the Pacific" (it's several, actually). But why would you even say that unless you were being dismissive and suggesting it was less than? It's a complete non sequitur otherwise.

At what age does he become "Adult Rock"? #WhitetrashWhitehouse

As a teenager who bumped "Bawitdaba" and "Cowboy" in my car, I thoroughly look forward to his transition into Old Man Rock.

What's the latest thing that Trump get from "Fox and Friends" this morning.

I'm guessing his 100 days tweet came from them or something else he saw/read.

Will Republican House leaders really try to ram through yet another flawed healthcare bill just to give Trump a "win" during his first 100 days? After what those who had town halls back home (and there weren't many) heard from their constituents, do you think a majority of the Republicans in Congress are ready to fall on their swords for a president whose loyalty is only to himself?

I think they are even less likely to fall on their swords than they were before, because they haven't seen the backlash that Trump threatened to unleash upon them. 

I think we may look back on them calling his bluff on the health care vote as a real turning point.

Why? Scandal? Doesn't want to prosecute a Republican President?

Because this

Trump makes life really difficult for Republicans charged with investigating the White House.

Did you give him the pity click he wanted?

Every click for Bump is a pity click, tbh.

One thing I enjoyed with the former Mr Fix was the percentage questions for JEB! getting into the 2016 race, and would like to ask you occasional percentage predictions/wild guesses about the 2018 House control race. What think you?

I would say 35%

It seems to me that the GOP are ignoring the fact they they almost lost safe seats by 'blaming' the Dems for not winning. Yes they won but they aren't learning any lessons from it.

Neither was a good day for the GOP. I think we can disagree reasonably about how bad Georgia is/was. But if Democrats run that well in the suburbs in 2018, there are a lot of seats they can pick off. GOP would need to counteract that by cementing the Trump coalition in other districts.

Did you forget to press the button? The former guy used to do that all the time too

Oh dear. This is not a good development. Sorry!

Turn on the chat, please!

I promise this well NEVER happen again. So embarrassing.

On Morning Joe Eugene Robinson said that the Democrats do not have a big enough tent due to adhering to ideological purity. He said they can't win elections that way. Do you agree?

100%. The GOP could afford to fight amongst themselves and lose Senate races in red states like Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, etc., because most states are red.

If Democrats start losing blue states because they nominate unelectable candidates, they can't win the Senate.

Does it surprise you that Keith Ellison is blaming Obama for congressional losses?

I think there is consensus that Obama didn't show enough interest in helping out. Whether he actually would have helped in 2010 or 2014 is another question entirely.

The Palin/Nugent/Kid Rock visit to the White House seems like a textbook demonstration of at least one component of Trump's ongoing strategy: emphasize our tribalism and polarization above all else. If he can keep his base (i.e. vast majority of GOP voters) believing that the Us vs. Them contest takes precedence over his actual performance/achievements, then he'll maintain their support. Am I onto something here?

Yeah, though I doubt it was all that strategic.

Who should the Dems nominate in 2020, a liberal firebrand who will energize the base or a blank canvas type who will not scare moderate GOPers and Indys who don't like Trump and don't want to vote for him?

I think they need a liberal candidate who can still talk the populist game and doesn't come off as too rigid. That's the future of politics in our polarized society.

Will they be able to pass the Continuing Resolution (CR) for the budget next week, or is it going to be derailed by Trump wanting a "Win" by Day 100?

I think Trump's tweet is recognition that the CR will get priority and he won't have his big win.

Elizabeth Warren said Trump won because his supporters are an "ugly stew of racism". Would you call that overreach?

The "basket of deplorables" thing worked out well. Why not try it again, right?

Is there a teaparty really anymore?

I think its attitude persists in the House Freedom Caucus and elsewhere. But I think Trump hijacked some of its supporters and made the GOP less of a purity-based party.

So if you were listening to music, I would hope it would be in tribute to your home state hero today...Mpls is awash in Prince memories today!

My first job was a half-mile from Paisley Park! 

Chelsea Clinton is on the cover of "Variety". How long do you think the media will try to make Chelsea happen?

I am still waiting to see what kind of skills she has as a politician. That said, I think she'll basically walk into a congressional seat if she runs, and she can learn on the job.

Does Devin Nunes follow Jason Chaffetz out of Washington?

If the ethics investigation gets too hot for him, that's the easiest way to bring it to a close. They don't investigate former members.

Think he runs again? I've still got Bernie bots on my Facebook feed who are agitating for another try.

I think he seriously looks at it -- he's basically suggested as much.

I wonder if he would do half as well as the front-runner, though.

I like the use of the words Trump and purity in the same sentence. Thanks for my laugh of the day.

But the point was that he made them less purity-focused.It's much more of a personality-based party now.

Glad to note that Trump is sufficiently well versed in French politics that he can comment. Is hoping for a kindred spirit in Marine Le Pen?

I'm not sure how much he cares, but I think Bannon has probably told him that would be a win for nationalism.

I thought it was more of a slam on the POTUS.

But in the metaphor, Kushner is Icarus, right?

(This is what we're talking about.)

It's the morning after Election Day 2018, and Lyin' Ted has suffered a stunning re-election defeat to Joaquin Castro. How did it happen? And what is Trump's approval rating at this point?

Trump's approval is definitely 35% or lower. And it happened because even Trump's and Cruz's base voters just weren't motivated to come out and vote -- and/or because Castro proved to be a rock star.

Chocolate bunnies or marshmallow Peeps?

Sorry. Peeps are gross. Starburst jelly beans and mini Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Why do you think Chelsea would have an easy time? I'm a fan of the Clinton family but know that they attract a lot of haters.

I doubt anyone would run against her. Unless the Bernie crowd mobilized.

Odds that ex-Senator Scott Brown is approved as US Ambassador to New Zealand -- especially with this skeleton in his closet? LINK: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/02/scott-brown-s-newest-campaign-shady-diet-pills.html

Odds are 99%. Warren even endorsed him yesterday.

What's the over/under on how much longer Bannon hangs on?

I have no idea. All's Quiet on the West Wing Front. But I wouldn't be surprised if he left after the whole thing died down -- make it less conspicuous.

Facebook gives employees time off to protest against Trump. Doesn't this negate their efforts to present themselves as unbiased?

Is it expressly so they can protest Trump? Or so that they can participate in ANY protests? I don't know the details, but I wouldn't be surprised if they had a blanket rule allowing people to engage in civil activism.

I don't understand Mr. Session's argument here. Do you think he: A) Doesn't understand how Judaical oversight works B) Doesn't consider Hawaii a state C) Is dog whistling the base that hasn't considered Hawaii a state since #44 was born there (supposedly!) or D) something else?

I have no idea. I do think he is frustrated that a district court judge anywhere can stop Trump's travel ban. But that's how the law works. And invoking the island just made it look like he views Hawaii as something less than a state.

Skills was certainly important when Caroline Kennedy was about to walk into a Senate seat.

Yeah, that's a Senate seat. You need considerably fewer skills to be a member of the House.

well, New Zealand is about as far away from Boston as you can get

bqhatevwr

If so, what programs? (Any comments on the Bill O'Reilly departure?)

I reserve my TV-watching for soccer, Homeland, Game of Thrones and Better Call Saul. At work, I monitor all cable news -- Fox, MSNBC, CNN.

I have to believe that sending Scott Brown half way around the world and permanently linking him to the Trump administration has to sound good to Senator Warren.

Yeah, though I really doubt she's making an electoral calculation. The idea that Brown would run against her and have a chance is pretty small, IMO.

Please no, the one way to screw up 2020 is to have another Bernie vs the establishment fight. Bernie will never win the nomination but his supporters will always feel like he was cheated and take it out on the eventual Dem nominee.

Whether it's Bernie or someone else, this fight will take place. I think with Bernie, though, it would be about 5 times as passionate and hard-fought.

If Bernie isn't too old to run in 2020 why is Biden too old (per Cillizza)? Do you think polls that keep showing him crushing Trump would temp Biden to make another try?

I think both are pushing it, just from an appealing-to-voters standpoint. But Biden certainly doesn't seem his age.

Beto O'Roark (sp?) has announced he is running against Cruz will Joaquin Castro says he is thinking about it. Which do you think as the best chance of upsetting Cruz? This Texan doesn't care which one. I like both and want Cruz out!

I think Beto O'Rourke is a pretty impressive young politician, and Democrats could certainly do worse than him. But it's just such a tough state.

Huh? Please explain. Also, re Caroline Kennedy: She didn't come close to walking into a Senate seat. Once she started appearing publicly, it became clear she wasn't ready for prime time.

I think that was the point. She was a strong contender for the appointment, but began stumbling immediately when she made her case publicly. I don't think Chelsea Clinton would have to do that running for 1 out of 435 House seats.

And here's what "bqhatevwr" is all about.

Do you watch "The Americans"?

I started the first season, then I stopped. The wife and I will pick it up at some point. I hear it got so good right after I stopped watching.

Did you not mention Bump as part of the Fix team because (a) he's not on the team anymore, (b) you are trying to marginalize him, (c) you were hoping to evoke a pity-for-Bump question like this one, (d) you forgot, just like you forgot to push the button?

a. And also 50% b and 25% c.

When will we see the return of the Line for 2018 senators and governors?

Yes! Stay tuned!

Didn't she also endorse him for the VA when he was in the running for that? Perhaps she just likes him as a person and thinks he would be a good member of the Adminsitration?

I think VA secretary is a far more consequential job. Her endorsement of him for that would have been REALLY surprising. 

Ambassador to New Zealand is a plum job with no real major duties.

Greta Van Susteren, who recently went to the Middle East, says the story of Christians being persecuted in the Middle East has been under covered. Is she correct?

I am no expert on these things. But I generally think Greta has a good radar.

I still don't understand the hate on Bernie. In Vermont political affiliation isn't required. Let the man speak and bring in his supporters. Yeah, I am one. But I also voted for Hillary in the general and am a registered Democrat. I really don't get the animosity. We're going to have to unite to beat the Repubs anyway. Not going to win otherwise.

I think the counter-argument to that is that Bernie just isn't helping. Questioning whether Ossoff is a progressive is something that tea party used to do on the GOP side. It just wasn't very diplomatic and I think was depressing for many Democrats to hear, given how much they've invested in Ossoff winning.

Once a week only with the tuna melt or sushi. Just saying.

Only once? I always thought it was twice.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/12/01/elizabeth-warren-endorses-scott-brown-va-secretary/94745962/

Well shut my mouth.

You can get all back episodes of "The Americans" from Amazon. You have connections there, right?

Calling my man Bezos right now.

I also quit halfway thru the 1st Season.

Apparently we cut bait too early.

A CNN panel said yesterday that Democratic energy will not translate into flipping seats. What say you?

The map is just so tough. But they have opportunities. I think they certainly close the gap SOMEWHAT. Whether the House or the Senate are in play is another matter. They need to win Texas to take back the Senate, basically. And they need to win seats like Ossoff's to win the House.

But that's why I like Bernie, his honesty. But I don't even think that quote was damaging to Ossoff. It's just the truth. But perhaps him not being progressive would work to his favor in that district.

I mean, points for being honest, certainly. But 100% honesty isn't always the most prudent political course -- either for Bernie or his party.

While this dynamic will likely emerge again whether he runs or not, aren't there some historical factors, unique to the Clintons, that might limit the activist wing's antipathy toward another future "establishment" candidate? I can't see Biden, Cory Booker, etc. inspiring as much dislike within the party as she did/does.

It's a good point. 

Will you be watching "House of Cards"?

Always.

"about two meals" is correct. 12 oz per week. My bad.

I appreciate you looking out for my health!

For me, the reason I'm a little cold on Bernie is that he seems to think political reality be damned and purity is all. I think he distorts center-left politicians who have an actual grip on how to accomplish things.

And in this and the post it's responding to, we have a pretty good illustration of the divide in the Democratic Party.

Thanks for coming out everyone. This remains the best part of my week.

We'll see you next Friday 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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