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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 25, 2016

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(Fort Lauderdale, Florida) – Merry Christmas, everyone! This Christmas I was thinking about what gifts we need to give to political folk after this crazy election season. I’m playing Santa Claus this year, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Trump’s Tinsel” – For Donald Trump, we wish the gift of humility. He’s going to be President, so maybe he can temper some of his supreme confidence (that some think is pure arrogance). Trump would be wise to know where his expertise lies (business and economics) and where his weaknesses are (military and foreign affairs). Saying he does not need the daily intelligence briefings is reckless and cavalier. Those generals and admirals will prove invaluable to him, so he needs to listen to them.

“Clinton’s Advent” – If Hillary Clinton is to have one more shot at the White House, she needs two things: an ineffective Trump, and her own good health. I don’t wish any President to fail - since if the leader fails, the nation falters – so we wish Mrs. Clinton good health should she wish to take another shot in 2020. This is not an endorsement, but rather an acknowledgment that I think she has one more chance, if the stars align. Still, convincing her own party to give her that chance will be tough.

“National Press Corps” – For my brethren in the press corps, I send the gift of free airline tickets anywhere outside of the beltway, just not on the campaign plane or bus. The problem with the traveling press corps (and I have many friends in it) is that they are kept inside the campaign bubble. Yes, they go to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania; but when the campaign stop is over they are back on the plane and gone. They rarely – if ever – get to speak with ordinary people and small business owners in American cities and towns. This is the main reason why so many pundits got this election wrong and never took Trump seriously. Go talk to average folks of all creeds and colors, and you’ll get the pulse of the nation!

“Biden’s Bidding” – Ditto from the Hillary Clinton gifts above. I am certain that Biden now wishes he had run in 2016. He has hinted he may run in 2020; but - as in the case of Clinton - he needs a Trump flop and for his own health to hold. Again, we wish Vice President Biden good health should he have the “fire-in-the-belly” to run one more time.

“Alec’s Antics” – For actor Alec Baldwin, we wish a four-year supply of hair spray. His Saturday Night Live impersonation of Donald Trump is a riot. (The woman who does Hillary Clinton is good, too, though I suspect that character will fade. Larry David as Bernie Sanders was the best of all.) I know Trump doesn’t like how Baldwin mimics him, but I hope the President-elect develops a better since of humor about it. Former President George H.W. Bush at first did not like impersonation that comedian Dana Carvey did of him, but later invited Carvey to the Bush White House to entertain the First Family. Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

“Speaker’s Spoken” – For House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), we wish the Green Bay Packers will give him a football helmet. He’ll need it! Ryan is in a tough spot. He will be under pressure to run Trump’s agenda through the House, where a lot of Republican members owe Trump no favors (unlike the Senate, where GOP control was sustained by Trump’s coattails). Trump and Ryan have had a stormy relationship, although last week in Wisconsin at his thank-you rally with Ryan, Trump said of Ryan: “He’s like a fine wine. Every day I appreciate his genius more and more.” We’ll see.

“You Can’t Get There from Here” – For the Democratic Party, your gift is a Rand McNally Atlas, or maybe the more modern MapQuest, or Google Maps. The Democrats didn’t have a math problem this year (as they won the popular vote); but rather they had a map problem, because not enough of those votes were in the right places to win the Electoral College. It was almost assumed the Democrats would win Wisconsin and Michigan, so the Clinton-Caine campaign spent relatively little time there when compared to Trump-Pence. Speaking of which, Trump’s pick of a “rust belt” governor in Pence now looks brilliant, because he’s a guy that knows why voters in his region are so upset about the economy

“Kumbaya” – For the Republican Party, we send the gift of sheet music for the song “Kumbaya,” as they may need it. In 1976 and 1992, Democrats sent a new President to Washington to join a House and Senate where they already held strong majorities. In both cases, it was a disaster. Intraparty fighting over things such as foreign affairs and health care reform spelled disaster. Democrats formed a circular firing squad and mortally wounded their own party. In 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan crushed Jimmy Carter and also swept control of the Senate. In 1994, the GOP took control of both the House and Senate for the first time in forty years. Republicans may be gloating now, but if the White House and Congress don’t get along, watch out!

“Wishes for Success” – To both parties and especially to the new President and the new leaders in Congress, I send a sincere wish for success. The public is in a foul mood. People want their borders fixed, with organized and legal immigration. Voters want the economy to improve – and not just for those at the very top. In recent years, I’ve lived in two economically- depressed states: Rhode Island and West Virginia. Both have great colleges and universities, but few jobs. The most common complaint I hear from parents is that “Our biggest state export is our kids!” One is a solidly blue state, the other now rock-rib red. Let’s hope our lawmakers will work together to help all economically-depressed areas – such as Rhode Island, West Virginia, and others – prosper again.

What gifts would you give politicians this year? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: istockphotos.com

“The Sunday Political Brunch” – December 18, 2016

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(Savannah, Georgia) -- We are on the road again this week, touring America. The landscape is changing, so it’s a good time to take a new look at the electoral map. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Georgia on My Mind” – There were a lot of polls in 2016 that showed Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in Georgia. Ultimately, Trump won 51 percent to 46 percent, but the details are worth looking at. Two polls in August, including the highly-regarded Atlanta Journal-Constitution, had Clinton up by four to seven percentage points. As late as October 28, the Quinnipiac Poll had them tied. Georgia is changing demographically, as more people from the Northeast and Midwest move South. Similar states, such as North Carolina and Virginia, have already gone Democratic, and Georgia could follow suit. Red is not red forever!

“Arizona, Too!” – Much as in Georgia, there were times in this race when Hillary Clinton led in Arizona, a traditionally red state. Much of this change has its roots in two demographic shifts: the expanding Latino voter base, and the retirement of Northerners to the Sun Belt. Neighboring New Mexico was a solid Republican state for many years, but has gone Democratic in six of the past seven Presidential elections.

“I’ll Have a Blue Christmas, without You”—I can hear Elvis singing it now! As mentioned above, red states are never guaranteed to remain red; nor are blue states, blue. The lesson from this election lies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. All were predicted – and with seemingly a great deal of certainty – to go for Secretary Clinton. Instead, all three traditionally-blue states went red for Trump; and few – if any – polls saw the trend coming.

“Be the Disenfranchised” – It has struck me in recent elections that certain voters leverage being disenfranchised. “We have no voice,” they shout; and maybe there is something to that. In 2000, we had a classic match-up between legacy candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush – both of whom come from legendary American political families. Fast forward to 2008, and you get the bi-racial, hardscrabble-life Barack Obama, and in 2016 the famously wealthy - but without political legacy -Donald Trump. Trump and Obama appealed to large numbers of voters who felt their constituency had no voice. They were the antithesis of the Bush-Gore (and, yes, Clinton crowd). They appealed to those who felt left out of the conversation, albeit at different ends of the political spectrum.

“Electoral College Matters” – On Monday, the Electoral College votes, and don’t bet a dime that it will overturn the election. There may be a couple of stray electors who don’t vote for Trump, but nowhere near the 37 who would be needed to change the outcome of the election.

“Hack Attack” – The reports of computer hacking in this election are not going to change the outcome either, but I do find them troubling. The fact that a foreign country tried to hack into the Republican National Committee (unsuccessfully) and the Democratic National Committee (successfully) is disturbing. I know of no credible evidence that suggests hackers breached any voting machines or vote counts, so the outcome of the election won’t change. But this ought to send up a red flag to everyone that threats to our cybersecurity are a serious and growing national security concern, and that proper resources must be devoted to protect against them. brought to bear to fight it.

“Biting into a Lemon” – Someone asked me this week why Democrats are so bitter about the outcome of this election, and whether that bitterness will last. The vote was nearly six weeks ago, and I think the wound will be raw for some time. The fact that one candidate won the popular vote and another won the Electoral College is very frustrating to those on the losing end of that deal. I believe Republicans would feel the same way if they had won the popular vote, but lost the Electoral College. In 2000, the public was just as bitterly divided; but much of that bitterness dissipated when - just eight months into the Bush administration - the September 11th attacks helped unify the nation.

Do you think the Electoral College should be eliminated? Why, or why not? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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