*So how does President Trump spend an hour and a half on the phone with Vladimir Putin, and the subject of future Russian interference in our elections never comes up? Only if your sovereign counterpart is also your handler. But they did broach the subject of the “Russian hoax.” No wonder Putin “sort of smiled,” however inexplicably, over the phone. The joke’s on us.
* “Mueller, Mueller… .” It sounds like a line from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” But there’s nothing funny in needing Bob Mueller to step up and publicly put his report into non-William Barr, agenda-driven language. It’s past Mueller Time, and America needs him to re-capture and re-affirm his report’s conclusions. In short, its “context, nature and substance.”
* Another untimely, unforced error by the Dems. This time it was Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen of the House Judiciary Committee trying to heap ridicule on William Barr for his no-show at the committee’s hearing. Barr, in effect, was “chickening” out because he didn’t want to face questions from staff attorneys. An empty chair with a nameplate should have been sufficient optics. But not for Cohen, who proceeded to re-focus attention from Barr’s lack of cooperation. First, he munched on Kentucky Fried Chicken on the dais as press cameras clicked. He looked stupid. Then he doubled down by placing a ceramic chicken on the table at which Barr would have sat. It was so dumb that “Saturday Night Live” passed on it for its cold opening, and that’s saying a lot.
* The latest D.C. oxymoron: “the Honorable William Barr.”
* First the good news: The (Democratic-controlled) House has approved a bill that would prevent President Trump from fulfilling his pledge to formally withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. It would also affirm that the U.S. will honor its commitments under the global accord. The bad news: No way does it move forward in the (Republican-controlled) Senate. The consoling news: Congresswoman Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is on the case as chairwoman of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “This is just the start of climate action in this Congress,” vows Castor. You go, KC.
* A lot of Democrats are making the case that while it’s urgent to replace Trump, it’s not smart to make him the singular focus of the 2020 campaign. It has to be about principles and game-changing programs. It’s also a jab at Joe Biden, who is a moderate septuagenarian with across-the-aisle bona fides. That’s utterly understandable if these were remotely normal times. They’re manifestly not. The overriding priority has to be the removal of Trump, who remains an existential threat–not just an off-putting, opposition occupant of the Oval Office.
How to prioritize the electoral ouster of Trump? Think Hitler and Kim–or Rev. Jim Jones and Charles Manson. Nothing less than the removal of an authoritarian, pervertedly charismatic cult figure who literally embodies a movement is required. Then we can talk policies and plans and business, however cantankerous, as usual.
* Here’s hoping that Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado doesn’t become the Democratic nominee. Can you imagine the “fake news” and journalistic “collusion” Trump push-back on a candidate whose younger brother is the editorial page editor of the New York Times? While Jim Bennet has already recused himself from weighing in on the upcoming election, that won’t matter to those in bed with Fox.
* Too bad Trump can’t reprioritize a big chunk of the money he wants for his wall into the immigration court system.
* On his way to the Big House, erstwhile Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen took a parting shot at the occupant of the White House. “I hope that when I rejoin my family and friends, this country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country.”
* Yes, there’s enough of Trump every news cycle to cause despair. But we shouldn’t forget; we still outnumber them, even if we don’t out-decibel them. Remember that Republicans have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections–and Trump was not the exception. The Republicans–and Trump–can’t win without Democratic compliance: sheer laziness and/or ideological stubbornness.