The Ron Klain Trump-inspired Snoopy Dance
Hoosier Values > Queens Values
For you many new readers: What follows is NOT a real memo from White House chief of staff Ron Klain to President Biden.
But/and it is a deeply reported look at the state of play inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and inside both major political parties.
As a former president likes to say: ENJOY!!
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Now, on with the “memo”!
FROM: Ron Klain
DATE: August 11, 2022
RE: Built back better!
Good morning, Kiawah Island, South Carolina!!!
I hear the beach is glorious, the gym is first-rate, and you and the First Family have settled in already.
And this gorgeous Associated Press picture of your gorgeous family is in newspapers across the country today:
Maybe best of all, you no longer have to spend your vacation there grousing about me, Attorney General Garland, or Secretary Yellen – or listening to donors tell you who should replace the three of us.
Justice is now on the move against Donald Trump.
Inflation is being tamed.
And I simultaneously led our team (and our reinvigorated Twitter promotion…) on three fronts: passing our legislative agenda against all odds, uniting our beautiful mosaic of a coalition, and taming inflation, including gas prices.
Check out the lead story in the New York Times, Mr. President, the fruits of all of our (of course I mean “your”) hard work:
You should enjoy your weeklong working vacation down there – and savor what we have done and where we are. We will figure out the details of the reconciliation bill signing ceremony while you are gone.
The timing of your vacation couldn’t be better because it is going to be all-Trump-all-the-time in the press for the foreseeable future.
We are going to get zero credit for doing the right thing by keeping Justice at arms’ length on their Trump investigations. We both know why DOJ and FBI can’t say anything about the Mar-a-Lago search or the status of the probes. But we are seeing a feeding frenzy in MAGA World unlike anything we have faced.
If it weren’t so scary and sad it would be funny.
The Wall Street Journal has now backed up the Newsweek reporting that Trump apparently has to deal with a mole in his midst who told Justice that there were still documents being improperly hidden in Palm Beach.
Secretary Clinton’s orbit is laughing at the notion that the FBI is some hotbed of anti-Republican sentiment.
We really don’t know what is going to happen, but as you recall our saying back in Senate Judiciary: Not every slice of pork becomes a ham sandwich.
As Homer Simpson would say, it was as funny and true back then as it is now.
You would not believe what the Republicans are saying – from the wacko MAGA fringes to the Marco Rubios and Dan Henningers of the world. I don’t know if they believe this stuff or what.
The New York Post’s Miranda Devine, who you will recall has long been on the warpath against Hunt, writes this about us:
They don’t care that half the country, polls show, believes the FBI has become the Democrats’ personal Gestapo.
She also unironically quotes an unironic Rudy Giuliani saying, “If Trump gets elected [president], the first thing he’ll do is raid every one of Biden’s houses.”
To borrow a quote from a great man from October, 2007, I mean think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there's only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun and a verb and you and Donald Trump, and I mean, there's nothing else. There's nothing else.
But it isn’t just the unhinged who are now part of a revved up Red right.
Here is what Henninger writes on the Journal op-ed page:
After Mr. Trump took office, the Washington establishment—the Comey-McCabe FBI, opposition Democrats, the press—asked the public to indulge the notion that the new U.S. president was a Russian pawn. No matter that the Steele dossier, the day it was published, struck many as Russian fabulism. The press published story after story based on anonymous sources that it might be real. It wasn’t.
Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and the public next got the Justice Department investigation led by Robert Mueller, a figure from Beltway central casting, which led to the Mueller report, which amounted to almost nothing. Then Adam Schiff, the impeachments, etc., etc.
In the event, the Democrats won back the presidency in 2020 when the incumbent Mr. Trump failed to put away an opponent who campaigned mostly from inside his house in Delaware.
Our old pal Ruth Marcus’ stirring defense of General Garland as the opposite of a cowboy and a polarizer will fall on deaf Red ears, unfortunately.
It’s too early to say how all of this is going to impact the midterms (or 2024) but, as usual, I’m looking to Karl Rove to tell us what’s really going on. Here’s what he says (rightly) in his own Journal column about the potential impact of the reconciliation win:
How can we decide if Democrats are right to praise their new bill or just desperate? The president’s job-approval rate sits at 39.9%, with 56% disapproving, according to the RealClearPolitics average. His handling of the economy is even less popular, with 63.4% disapproval, and 71.9% of voters believe the country is going in the wrong direction. Let’s check these numbers again after Labor Day.
If they improve significantly, it would suggest that a growing number of voters believe Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats have a good plan—that against economic logic, they somehow managed to lower prices and strengthen growth by pumping more demand into an inflation-ridden economy through increased government spending and using higher taxes to confiscate capital, profits and income.
But if these numbers don’t improve appreciably, Democrats can know for certain that all their present celebrating of the Inflation Reduction Act was not only premature but unwarranted. I’m betting that’s the case, and if I’m right, their party is in for a particularly painful midterm.
There’s no doubt that if our theory of the case is correct, the key poll numbers – job approval, right track, ratings on handling of the economy – should all be at least several points better by the time we get to the media’s “traditional kickoff of the fall campaign” stories around Labor Day. That would put even more wind in the sails of what is now a fast moving Democratic ship!
The grousers among the donors and the electeds is not really about your age – they all knew how old you would be during this term when they decided to support you two years ago. It’s all about your poll standing. If that comes back in September to decent levels, we are going to be in even stronger shape.
There is enthusiasm throughout our entire coalition right now, with positive passion over what we have accomplished and negative passion over abortion, Trump, and more. And while we need to stay on inflation, the econ team now sees a real possibility of a soft landing.
The press sees that too. And they are back right where they belong – on our side. Thanks both to Trump (credit where credit is due) but also thanks to our hard work.
The media doesn’t appreciate the dogs that aren’t barking; the Greens, abortion rights leaders, and labor folks are all either quiet or, increasingly, supportive. Again, part of that is world events beyond our control, but we have spent hours and hours on the phone with the key players. The Cabinet deserves a ton of credit here. As does The Veep. I mean Vice President Harris.
[Update: Things are still rough there, but better in some ways than they have ever been. I will continue to keep you and the First Lady minutely posted.]
After we finesse the student debt decision by the end of the month, my checklist says we will have secured the support of every key part of our coalition through the midterms – a major feat for a president with a (sorry!) job approval in the 30s.
Even Chuck and Nancy have a spring in their steps now.
Senator Schumer continues his victory tour, giving interviews with every Capitol Hill bigfoot about how “he” did it (and using “I” to a surprising degree), but of course he deserves his days in the sun.
And our official administration biographer, Jennifer Rubin, has some great stuff on the Speaker today:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has remained unflappably upbeat about the midterms, now has good reason to tout Democrats’ prospects. Even when other issues have popped up (e.g., impeachment of Trump for inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol), Pelosi has consistently been an advocate for running on “kitchen table” issues, as she regularly put its, such as lowering the cost of health insurance premiums and prescription drugs.
She did this well during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. She spoke about multiple legislative wins that fall into this category, such as the CHIPS and Science Act that President Biden signed into law on Tuesday, and the PACT Act, which will expand health care for sick veterans. The speaker also glowed about the pending Inflation Reduction Act, the reconciliation package that the Senate recently passed. “It’s pretty exciting,” she said, adding, “It has an integrity to it. And yes, it is about meeting the needs of America’s working families for the people, not politics.”
Our positive momentum is being driven in part by enthusiasm about the midterms, including signs that things are looking up:
Democrats and nonpartisan analysts said Wednesday that they saw fresh signs for the party in power to be more optimistic about the midterms after a special election in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade. (Washington Post)
Anzo is, as usual, using his cred with the media and his status as our top pollster to spin things our way. Look at what he told Politico for their version of the story everyone is writing now about how this could be a November to remember (in a good way) for us:
“In general, I’m feeling a lot different about Democratic prospects today, on Aug. 10, than I was on May 1,” John Anzalone.
Our being back on good terms with the political media means they surely will not cast our side outspending the Republicans as Democrats “buying” the election, and they will look at our negative ads (even the personal attacks!) as admirably tough and clever politics, as opposed to, uhm, negative ads. If a Republican White House were doing this, can you imagine what the coverage would be like?! Thank goodness for asymmetry!
Check out this Washington Post story for a great example of our returned home court advantage in the press.
Like Rove, Henry Olsen in the Post also is a good conservative guidepost for what’s going on. He gives away maybe a little more than we would like, with his analysis mirroring ours. Thanks to Trump’s horrible candidates, we could lose the House but outperform history and prior expectations in Senate and gubernatorial contests in key states and “win” the night:
Each of the five closest states from 2020 have at least one controversial Trump nominee in key races. Lake and Masters in Arizona need to convince highly educated independents in the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan area to switch sides, while Herschel Walker must attract former Republicans in the Atlanta suburbs to return to the party. Masters and Walker start behind the Democratic incumbent senators they are challenging. They must prove they are ready for prime time in states where Trump’s embrace repels as many votes as it attracts.
Pennsylvania will be ground zero for this analysis. The state was extremely close in both 2016 and 2020, and statewide partisan registration figures show Republicans have been gaining on Democrats. Both of the Trumpian candidates, Oz and gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, start behind their Democratic foes. State polls have often overstated Democratic leads here in recent years, but no one seriously maintains that either candidate is currently ahead.
Michigan and Wisconsin also feature Trump-backed statewide nominees. Both Michigan’s Tudor Dixon and Wisconsin’s Tim Michels, the GOP’s gubernatorial nominees, had run strong races on their own before receiving Trump’s support. Both face Democratic incumbents in states not known for ditching someone after only one term in office. Wisconsin hasn’t done that since 1986. In Michigan, you have to go back to 1962 for the last time voters tossed out a first-term chief executive. Republicans in both states will need to run great campaigns to beat their tough opponents.
Trump’s candidates probably need to win at least five of these seven races for him to claim victory. Anything less will lend credence to the argument that he’s political poison to swing voters. If Trump’s people can’t win in a great year for Republicans, how can Trump expect to win these states himself? That won’t sway Trump’s acolytes, but it will hold water with many conservatives who just want the White House back.
Similarly, Paul Gigot is pre-spinning what a horrible midterm the Reds might have, thanks in part to Trump:
The GOP should be making the midterms a referendum on Mr. Biden’s first two years. Democrats would prefer to talk until November—really, until the end of time—about Mr. Trump. Characteristically, so would Mr. Trump, and he has ensured GOP nominees who agree. The lesson of recent primaries is that this election is far from won, even in the House.
Yes, the further irony of Donald Trump, the man who made you president (and me White House chief of staff) is once again riding high enough to kidnap his party but not high enough to stop us.
This AP story is awesome:
“Today, every Republican in every state in this country should be talking about how bad Joe Biden is, how bad inflation is, how difficult it is to run a business and run a household,” said [Geoff ] Duncan, the Georgia lieutenant governor. “But instead, we’re talking about some investigation, we’re talking about Donald Trump pleading the Fifth, we’re talking about Donald Trump endorsing some conspiracy theorist…”
“For a pretty good stretch, it felt like the Trump movement was losing more ground than it was gaining,” said … Duncan, who is urging his party to move past Trump. But now, he said, Trump is benefiting from “an incredibly swift tail wind.”
As long as Trump and his clownish, evil endorsed candidates are front and center, you are going to look normal, bipartisan, and like you know how to get stuff done. You can keep arguing for a return to American values and protecting our way of life – just like you talked about with those always-leaking historians last week and like you did to win in 2020.
So that’s our plan:
1. Let General Garland, the Fed, Nancy and Chuck do their things.
2. Stay hyper vigilant on inflation (especially food prices).
3. Let Trump be Trump.
4. Let Biden be Biden (including not talking to the press much).
5. Watch your poll numbers rise in the late summer (knowing that, even if they don’t, the data suggests our candidates can still beat Trump’s – thank you, Dr. Oz!!).
6. Keep our coalition together.
7. Outspend the Reds on the midterms, including with scathingly negative ads.
8. Stay on track with Biden-Harris 2024.
9. Keep an eye on Trump’s next moves, as per the New York Times:
As to when Mr. Trump might announce a 2024 campaign, there is some new disagreement among his inner circle about when he should do so. While some on his team were eager for him to fly down to Mar-a-Lago this week and begin his bid in the wake of the F.B.I. search, others view the recent legal developments as reason to hold off, according to two people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
As we have always said, it is better to be lucky than good – and best to be both. We have been both of late.
Trump needs to be held accountable. His rabid followers need to be held accountable. The Republican Party needs to return to sanity.
You and me, we will do all of that together.
And get the price of bacon down.
I will talk to you after your workout.