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Sunday Political Brunch: Political Crazy Talk - May 14, 2017

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(Sunday Political Brunch Political Crazy Talk

(Charleston, West Virginia) – Sometimes politicians open their mouths and say things that maybe they shouldn’t have. Words matter, and they have consequences. On so many occasions I know politicians wish they could take their words back. This week we’ve seen a lot of statements the authors would likely want to walk back. But “closing the barn door after the horse escapes” is an often-futile exercise. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“If the Dead Could Speak” – Despite all the controversy over what President Trump said this week, I don’t think he wins first prize. That award goes to Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who said at a town hall meeting, “Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care." No matter where you stand politically on Obamacare – left, or right - people die every day because of a lack of access to health care. You can imagine this ill-advised soundbite being aired over and over in the 2018 campaign ads.

“Trump ‘Trumps’ Trump!” – Just when you think he can’t top his last tweet, he does. This week President Trump tweeted after firing the FBI Director, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump was referring to calls and dinner at the White House with Comey, before dismissing him (photo above). Mr. Trump also said Comey told him that the President was not under investigation. Tapes? No tapes? Secret recordings? To many, this sounds strangely reminiscent of President Nixon’s administration, where the tapes – and gaps - ultimately cost him the White House. Stay tuned!

“Comey’s Comments” – The start of the aforementioned firestorm was testimony FBI Director Comey gave to Congress last summer, concerning emails that Hillary Clinton aide Houma Abedin, sent to her husband, former Rep. Anthony Weiner, (D-NY). Comey testified that "hundreds and thousands" of emails had been deliberately sent directly from Abedin to Weiner's computer. This week the FBI issued a statement correcting Comey’s statement on the emails to, “a small number, a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner." Hours later Comey was fired.

“It Happens” – As I’ve mentioned, politicians have quotes they wish they could take back. A case in point, Hillary Clinton’s comments about the coal industry in her run for the White House. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” said former Secretary Clinton as she campaigned on a new energy platform. It came back to haunt her as she lost West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other coal producing states in 2016. Quotes like this can turn tides. In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary by 42 points. Eight years later she was crushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders who won all 55 counties in the Mountain State.

“Obamacare Scare” – If you wonder why the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have gained such momentum over the past seven years, consider this famous quote from President Obama: "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold," said Mr. Obama. Well a lot of people wound up losing their coverage, and their preferred doctor, or, they paid more to keep their health plan. As mentioned, words matter.

“Did He Really Just Say That?” – I deal with a lot of political press secretaries who must do damage control after the boss “misspeaks.” My favorite is President George W. Bush speaking about terrorism in August 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Ouch!!! As I often say, the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted.

“Why All of This Matters” – Look, politicians misspeak. I get that. In the blur of the spotlight or on the campaign trail politicians say things that are just inaccurate. Sometimes you can blame it on fatigue, or poor fact gathering. On the other hand, politicians sometimes deliberately say things to mislead the press and public. How do you tell the difference? Sometimes it’s hard to sort out fact from fiction. On one hand, you have political hyperbole that exaggerates the truth; other times they are just bald face lies. It’s important to have a free and unfettered press, and an always highly skeptical public to try to sort it all out.

What is your favorite political “misspeak?” Just click the comment button on www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

Charleston, West Virginia) – Sometimes politicians open their mouths and say things that maybe they shouldn’t. Words matter, and they have consequences. On so many occasions I know politicians wish they could take their words back. This week we’ve seen a lot of statements the authors would likely want to walk back. But “closing the barn door after the horse escapes” is an often-futile exercise. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“If the Dead Could Speak” – Despite all the controversy over what President Trump said this week, I don’t think he wins first prize. That award goes to Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) who said at a town hall meeting, “Nobody dies because they don't have access to health care." No matter where you stand politically on Obamacare – left, or right - people die every day because of a lack of access to health care. You can imagine this ill-advised soundbite being aired over and over in the 2018 campaign ads.

“Trump ‘Trumps’ Trump!” – Just when you think he can’t top his last headline, he does. This week President Trump tweeted after firing the FBI Director, "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump was referring to calls and dinner at the White House with Comey (photo above), before dismissing him. Mr. Trump also said Comey told him that the President was not under investigation. Tapes? No tapes? Secret recordings? To many, this sounds strangely reminiscent of President Nixon’s administration, where the tapes – and gaps - ultimately cost him the White House. Stay tuned!

“It Happens” – As I’ve mentioned, politicians have quotes they wish they could take back. A case in point, Hillary Clinton’s comments about the coal industry in her run for the White House. “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” said former Secretary Clinton as she campaigned on a new energy platform. It came back to haunt her as she lost West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and other coal producing states in 2016. Quotes like this can turn tides. In 2008, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary by 42 points. Eight years later she was crushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders who won all 55 counties in the Mountain State.

“Obamacare Scare” – If you wonder why the efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have gained such momentum over the past seven years, consider this famous quote from President Obama: "If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold." said Mr. Obama. Well a lot of people wound up losing their coverage, and their preferred doctor, or, they paid more to keep their health plan. As mentioned, words matter.

“Did He Really Just Say That?” – I deal with a lot of political press secretaries who must do damage control after the boss “misspeaks.” My favorite is President George W. Bush speaking about terrorism in August 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Ouch!!! As I often say, the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted.

“Why All of This Matters” – Look, politicians misspeak. I get that. In the blur of the spotlight or on the campaign trail politicians say things that are just inaccurate. Sometimes you can blame it on fatigue, or poor fact gathering. On the other hand, politicians sometimes deliberately say things to mislead the press and public. How do you tell the difference? It’s hard to sort out fact from fiction. On one hand, you have political hyperbole that exaggerates the truth; other times they are just bald face lies. It’s important to have a free and unfettered press, and an always highly skeptical public to try to sort it all out.

What is your favorite political “misspeak?” Just click the comment button on www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2017 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

Sunday Political Brunch - May 7, 2017: Sorting Out Winners and Losers

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – Success in the political world often relies on momentum. In today’s techie parlance, the term often used is “trending.” It’s a good analogy; but sustaining momentum – like sustaining a trend – can sometimes give way to counter forces; and tidal waves can move in the opposite direction. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“When a Win Is a Win!” – The House vote to repeal and replace Obamacare was a significant victory for the Trump White House. I don’t say that from a policy advocacy standpoint; I say it from a political momentum standpoint. A picture is worth a thousand words - sometimes many more. The photo of President Trump standing with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other members of Congress in the White House Rose Garden (above) is a powerful "optic." Trump had needed to show that he can work with Congress and get things done. Not every Presidential objective can be accomplished by Executive Order.

“When a Win Is Not a Win” – If the Atlanta Falcons are leading the Super Bowl at halftime, they have momentum and the advantage, but they don’t have a victory. (Just ask the New England Patriots.) My point is that President Trump has an advantage, and he has momentum, but he doesn’t have victory. Getting the Obamacare repeal and replacement through the Senate will be a mighty task. And it may get amended in the upper chamber and sent back to the House. Given its razor-thin margin in the House last week, there’s no guarantee that Senate tinkering will get rubber stamped at the other end of the Capitol.

“Why Teamwork Matters” – On the playground at recess, it matters that the kids can get along. Politics is no different. As mentioned, the photo of Trump says, “I can work with Congress; the members are my equal partners.” For much too long in his first 100 days, the White House message was, “I’m going it alone.” That almost always fails.

“Why Teammates Cut and Run” – The strategy going forward gets tricky. All 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for reelection, as are 33 members of the Senate. One name not on the ballot is Trump's. Yet, the midterm election is a referendum on his first two years. Over the next year, you may see many of these Republicans widen the distance between themselves and the President. Call it the “Ten-Foot Pole” phenomenon. If the Obamacare fight drags on and bounces back and forth between the House and the Senate, it could see an erosion of votes; and it won’t take but a few departures to kill it. Congress must get it done by October 1, 2017, or it may get shelved. That would be a huge defeat and fuel many Democratic challengers.

“The Odds” – Oddly enough, the odds favor Republicans in 2018. Of the 33 Senate seats up, 21 are occupied by Democrats; and 10 of those are in states Trump carried in 2016. The irony is that the party in the White House usually loses seats in the midterm elections. Right now, Republicans have a 52-48 Senate advantage. I bet they pick up at least four seats. In the House, they could lose a dozen seats, but probably not lose their majority. However, if there is a major Trump agenda policy meltdown, then watch out. Few saw the Republican tidal wave coming in 1994. Republicans gained 54 House seats and 9 in the Senate to take the majority in both chambers.

“Where the Rubber Meets the Road” – Politics and policy intersect; you can’t avoid it. Here’s a real-world example. If coverage of pre-existing medical conditions is reduced, studies show the state that would be hardest hit is West Virginia. The Mountain State has the highest per capita rate of people with pre-existing condition. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, and aligns with Republicans on key issues. They may need his vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, but he’s also facing a tough reelection bid next year. So how does he vote? Stay tuned!

“An Immigration Olive Branch” – One strategy that might prove useful in the still-early days of this administration is to extend the proverbial "olive branch." President Trump wants to build a border wall and to defund sanctuary cities, but he has also talked about embracing some pro-immigration ideas, such as the “Dream Act.” It would protect and eventually give legal status to children who were brought here illegally by their parents or others. Many of those children are now educated, working adults. The Dream Act would grant them a path to citizenship and - at the same time - show Mr. Trump’s flexibility on immigration issues. The President would be wise to show he can work across the aisle at times.

What are your thoughts? Can the Republicans be a party of unity, or of division? Just click the comments button at www.MarkCurtiMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter, author, and analyst. He is currently Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations in West Virginia.

© 2017, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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