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Time for a Political Smackdown Sunday Political Brunch April 1, 2018

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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – We were on the road this week for the West Virginia Broadcasters Association annual meeting and awards dinner. I am proud to report our team came home with the award for Network Long-Form Newscast, for our Sunday public affairs program, “Inside West Virginia Politics.” It’s a network show in that it airs on Nexstar Media’s five TV stations serving West Virginia. Certainly, we have plenty of political news to “brunch” on, too!

“When the ‘Stormy’ Blows Over” – Pardon the pun, but as I have been hinting at over the last few weeks, I don’t think this story has “legs!” I watched Stormy Daniels on “60 Minutes” and have no reason to doubt her story. The networks were all doing follow-up stories this week, but working in a local and statewide news
operation, our focus was on the old adage, “All politics is local.” The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was 20 years ago, and I don’t see a national groundswell to go back down that road again. People I know on both sides of the aisle are just shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Who cares?”

“Time for a Political Smackdown” – Honestly, the best political story of the past week was the veiled threats between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump. At an appearance in Miami, Biden, age 75, told students he’d “beat the hell” out of Trump if the two men were back in high school. Trump tweeted Biden was "crazy" and "weak, both mentally and physically." The president said Biden would "go down fast and hard, crying all the way." Trump, age 71 - as you may recall - has professional wrestling experience though his friend Vince McMahon at the WWE, World Wresting Entertainment. McMahon’s wife, Linda, is Trump’s Director of the Small Business Administration. Seems like a Trump v. Biden pay-per-view fight is in the cards! I’d pay to see that!

“Primary Colors” – Many of us are focusing on the November 2018 elections to see who wins control of both houses of Congress, as well as many governors’ mansions across the nation. But a big precursor to all of that is the spring primary season. May 8th is a date to mark on your calendar, with primary races for U.S.
Senate seats in Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana. All three Democratic incumbents are vulnerable, and despite President Trump’s national unpopularity, it’s possible Democrats could lose all three of these seats, with the GOP gaining overall strength in the Senate. Stay tuned!

“Let’s Roll the Eggs!” – The annual White House Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Monday, April 2nd, the day after Easter. The annual (chaotic) tradition became a permanent thing in 1872 under President Rutherford B. Hayes, but other occasional egg rolls were held dating back to First Lady Dolly Madison (I thought she was best known for inventing snack cakes – just joking folks).

“The Census ‘Counts’” – A big issue flying under the radar right now is the looming 2020 census count across the United States, which determines how many seats are appropriated in each state for the U.S. House of Representatives. President Trump, who is mad about lack of funding for his border wall and the continuation of sanctuary cities, is considering adding a question to the census form about whether respondents are U.S. citizens or not. Because of the prospect of legal action, there are concerns that California, Florida and other states with a high population of illegal immigrants will be undercounted in the census, and lose seats in Congress. The Trump Administration can write the 2020 census questionnaire even though he could also be voted out later that year.

“Go Celebrate!” – Hey, it’s Easter weekend, and it’s Passover, too. So, go eat, pray, and enjoy your families. We’ll get back to all the serious, heavy politics next Sunday!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is an award-winning political reporter and author. He is now based in Charleston, West Virginia, for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving the Mountain State. He’s been a political contributor to Patch.com for ten years.

© 2018, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC.

Photo courtesy: The Library of Congress

The Sunday Political Brunch -- March 25, 2018

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Well politics was all over the map this week. A lot of fascinating stuff happened, and controversy, too. This as we head into the spring primary season. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Bring Back that ‘Stormy’ Day” – Okay I got lots of critical comments last week because I wrote about Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump and then was paid $130,000 to keep quiet, which she obviously has not done (are such deals legally binding, anyway?) Carp all you want, DC loves sex scandals. I didn’t write the rules. But now an ex-Playboy bunny by the name of Karen McDougal says she also had a consensual affair with Trump in 2006-07. Look, this is starting to look like the Clinton era, in which the former President’s handlers referred to similar claims with the unfortunate term, “bimbo eruptions.”

“Does It Matter?” – Yes, and no. As a member of the White House Press Corp from 1993-1999, I can tell you the beltway and the nation was consumed by the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. It was like the car wreck you’re not supposed to watch on the highway, but everyone does. But public opinion was largely against removing Clinton from office, despite widespread displeasure over his behavior. In Clinton’s case, perjury – not adultery – was the legal issue. Some say in Trump’s case, bribery – not adultery – is the real issue. But to the public, national stability and security are the issues. We didn’t dump Clinton; I doubt we will dump Trump.

“On the Bubble” – Like him, or not, President Trump seems to be consistent on one issue – overspending by certain bureaucrats. He fired Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price just months into the job for lavish travel. Now we know that HUD Secretary Ben Carson is on the bubble for lavish office furnishings; and EPA Administrator Greg Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may be on the way out, for what may be viewed excessive travel expenses. Folks, when voters send you to Washington, to cut spending and reign in the budget, a $30,000 dining room at your office was not what they had in mind.

“The Putin Call” – Here’s the truth of most political cycles - and most news cycles - which often last just 24-hours. What seems like an earthquake, can just be a speed bump. Many Democrats – and a lot of Republicans – are upset President Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his re-election “victory” – wink, wink – as if Russia has been known for free and fair democratic elections. Yes, it was a slap in the face to many Americans that Trump would congratulate our nation’s arch enemy, but President Obama also gave a congratulatory call last time Putin “won.” Like a loaf of bread, this story goes “stale” in about 24 hours.

“The Nixon Intra-Party Lesson” – Senators Jeff Flake (R) Arizona and Lindsey Graham (R) South Carolina, are among those suggesting impeachment hearings may result if President Trump fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller. You may be scratching your head here. “How can a President be impeached with a majority of his party in the House and Senate?” The answer is, when your own party turns on you. In 1974, it wasn’t the Democrats who forced the Nixon resignation. While Nixon was prepared to fight to the death, Senators Barry Goldwater, (R) Arizona; Hugh Scott (R) Iowa; and, Howard Baker, (R) Tennessee, were among those who went to the White House and told Nixon he was done. Nixon – who never forgave Baker, and said it would ruin his White House chances - reluctantly agreed.

“Mueller Firing?” – Common sense tells me that President Trump won’t fire Mueller; my gut tells me he will. Trump is the most unconventional President in American history. All bets are off; all previous indicators are moot. Not only do I think Trump will fire Mueller; he will also ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign – which Sessions will refuse – and will then be fired. Conventional wisdom tells me you don’t do this in an election year, but there is no such concept as “conventional wisdom” in this time. Yes, I think Republicans will lose a chunk of seats in the House (15 to 25) – but not their majority. Oddly, I think the GOP will pick up two or three Senate seats. This is a weird cycle.

What are your thoughts on this weird week in politics? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the bordering states. He’s an award-winning political author.

© 2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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