A Summer Political Hodge-Podge – “Sunday Political Brunch” July 21, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We’re in a heat wave across the central U.S. It’s brutal, but the crazy political developments just keep on, “keepin’ on” as Campaign 2020 heats up even more. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Send Her Back!” – The weirdest political mantra of the week came from another President Trump tweet. The president is locked in a war of words with four Congresswoman over various administration policies, but particularly on the issue of immigration reform. They are: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) New York, Ilhan Omar (D) Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib (D) Michigan and Ayanna Pressley (D) Massachusetts. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The president’s problem is simply factual. All four of the women are U.S. citizens, and three were born here. Omar is from Somalia but immigrated to the U.S. as a political refugee seeking asylum.

“The Fallout” – While President Trump had factual problems with this story, so too, did Democrats, many of whom called the tweet “racist.” Ocasio-Cortez is Latina, an ethnicity, not a race. Tlaib is a Palestinian-Muslim, an ethnicity and religion, but again, not a race. Omar and Pressley are both African-American, so maybe the president has some racial issues there. But most criticism leveled at Omar is because she’s a Muslim, a religion not a race. Folks, I’m not splitting hairs here, because facts and language matter. Critics of President Trump might be right on target calling the president’s remarks bigoted, prejudiced, or xenophobic. But they undercut their own arguments by mislabeling the product.

“Why All This Matters?” – We’ve had a week of name-calling in Washington, D.C., and then chants of, “Send her back” on the campaign trail. What, do we banish these women back to Minnesota, Michigan, New York and Massachusetts? At the same time four critical issues were neglected or failed on Capitol Hill. They were rescuing pensions for coal miners, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, and increasing health care benefits for emergency workers injured on September 11, 2001. “We’ve heard facilities on the U.S. border called concentration camps. We’ve seen the far-left throw accusations of racism,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky – Majority Leader. Senator Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia, countered by telling me, “I mean this is ridiculous for us to get into name-calling, starting at the highest level and going all the way down. People elected to positions of leadership. This is not leadership.”

“He’s OUT!” – I don’t know him well, but I’ve met Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) California when he was on the Dublin City Council near where I lived and later represented the Congressional District where I used to live. At 38, he has quite a future ahead of him, so dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential field will be no strike against him. His most memorable line in the Democratic debate last month was when he said it was time for former Vice President Joe Biden to move on. "I was 6 years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic convention (in 1987) and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans," said Swalwell. "That candidate was then-Sen. Joe Biden." Ouch!

“The Impact?” – Obviously the line did not help Swalwell. He’s out of the race, but Biden is still in. Still, it raises again what I call the generational fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. People are faced with choosing Biden, Sen Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont, or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts who are all 65-plus, or younger candidates such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend, Indiana (in his 30s) or Sen. Kamala Harris (D) California (in her 50s). Do voters want new blood or old faces? Stay tuned!

“He’s IN!” – I don’t know newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, but I know his brother Jim through many interviews with his West Coast organization, “Common Sense Media.” The Steyers are well-educated, wealthy business people who have been politically active for years. I know people say it’s not fair, but bigger wallets usually get a bigger political megaphone. Tom Steyer will appeal to the anti-politician wing of the electorate. He’s a smart guy, with lots of fresh ideas, who might gain some traction through ad buys, social media, etc. Keep an eye on him!

“You Can’t Make this Stuff Up!” – Former Rep. Mark Sanford (R) South Carolina, has hinted he may challenge President Trump for the Republican nomination. Sanford is the former South Carolina Governor who got caught having an affair with his Argentine mistress. He claimed he spent a lost weekend hiking the Appalachian Trail, when in fact he was on a torrid getaway in Buenos Aries. He finished his two-terms as governor and was later reelected to Congress despite all his personal baggage. He was then voted out of office by a pro-Trump Republican candidate in 2018. Politicians, like cats, may have nine lives!

“Here We Go Again!” – CNN has announced its debate line up in two weeks, featuring ten Democratic candidates on July 30 and another batch of ten on July 31. Does this sound familiar? It’s very much the same as the MSNBC debates at the end of June in Miami. The only change on stage is the departure of the above-mentioned Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) California. He’ll be replaced by Gov. Steve Bullock (D) Montana. Bullock, who supports new energy development, while still backing the fossil fuel industry – coal is still huge in his state – will be an interesting voice on the energy issue in this debate.

“What Say the Polls?” – There was a lot of fanfare after the MSNBC debate where initially Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders dropped, while Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren surged. Well, time has leveled things out a bit. The latest Real Clear Politics Composite Poll has the race: Biden still leads with 28.4 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders with 15 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 14.6 percent and Kamala Harris with 12.6 percent. The rest of the candidates remain way back in the pack. But some like Mayor Pete at 4.8 percent remain potentially viable.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five surrounding states and most of the Washington, D.C media market. He is a National Contributing Reporter for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images.

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