Shortly after former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he received his first union endorsement. “I couldn’t be more proud to have the International Association of Fire Fighters on my team,” Biden tweeted in response. “Unions built the middle class in this country — and as President, I’ll fight to strengthen them and grow the backbone of this country.”
As CNN noted, “Biden has long enjoyed close ties to labor groups and often attributes his political ascent to unions, referring to them as the ones who ‘brung me to the dance.’” But while Biden’s strength among working-class voters is one reason some observers see him as potentially able to win back Democrats who defected to Donald Trump in 2016, his initial comments about the IAFF endorsement at least raise a question about priorities and strategy.
Biden was born in 1942 and was first elected to the Senate in 1972. Unions were a strong economic force then, and they carried significant political clout, with large, politically active memberships and financial muscle. But the percentage of American workers belonging to unions peaked in the mid-1940s and has been falling ever since.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10.5 percent of wage and salary workers were members of unions in 2018. Many of them were in government, so union membership among private-sector workers was a microscopic 6.4 percent.
Of course, the distribution of union members around the country is not uniform. Most union members live in states that are already normally Democratic.
Of the 11 states where union membership in 2018 constituted at least 15 percent of the employed, Hillary Clinton carried nine: New York (23.8 percent), Hawaii (21.3), Washington (18.8), Connecticut (16.9), New Jersey (16.2), Rhode Island (16.1), California (15.5), Minnesota (15.2) and Illinois (15.0).
Trump won two of them, Alaska (18.1) and Michigan (15.6), which is normally a Democratic state.
Union membership as a percentage of all employed stood slightly above the national average in one key swing state, Pennsylvania (12.0), but it was well below the national average in three other states that could decide the presidency in 2020: Wisconsin (8.3), Florida (5.6) and North Carolina (3.4).
Appeals to unions and union members may be effective in many already rock-solid liberal and Democratic states — making unions still relevant in Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses — but it is hard to see how organized labor will change the political equation for 2020.
Of course, in a general election against Trump, Biden’s pro-union, pro-working-class message could appeal to some Americans who are not union members (or union households) but have a favorable view of unions.
An April 25-May 1, 2018, survey by the Pew Research Center found that 55 percent of adults had a very or somewhat favorable view of labor unions, while only 33 percent have a very or somewhat unfavorable view of them.
And when Pew followed up by noting the decline in union membership and asking whether that development has been “mostly good” or “mostly bad” for working people, 51 percent said “mostly bad” and 35 percent said “mostly good.”
Trump surely will run on the economy, and a Democratic nominee who is too far to the left on the issue, such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, would make it easy for the president to argue that Democrats will drive the economy into a ditch.
Biden should be more difficult to paint with that broad brush.
But it’s difficult to believe that any Democrat is going to win the White House by focusing on the economy — not with an April national unemployment rate of 3.6 percent and strong gross domestic product growth.
No wonder 51 percent of respondents told the April 26-May 1 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that they approved of Trump’s handling of the economy.
Instead, the Democrats’ best path next year appears to be on cultural issues and non-economic concerns, including health care, gun control and climate change, as well as the president’s personality and character issues, and “change.”
Those issues energized core Democratic groups and swing voters in 2018.
The question is how Biden addresses those concerns and whether Democratic voters can get excited about him and his agenda.
Unions surely continue to be a part of the Democratic coalition, and any Democratic nominee who can improve on Hillary Clinton’s showing with blue-collar workers and whites without a college degree will be formidable next year.
But Democrats are probably better off trying to turn out their 2018 coalition again in 2020 than trying to recreate the non-college/working-class coalition they relied on before Trump. And that may require Biden to be the proverbial old dog who learns new tricks. He’ll need to avoid falling into old patterns and relying on old messages, even as he appreciates those who initially brought him to the dance.
This column appeared initially in the May 7 issue of Roll Call.
If you’re on any Republican list, you’ve undoubtedly received emails from one of the GOP campaign committees or a Capitol Hill communications staffer calling the Democrats “socialists.” To those of us who were around in the 1980s and 1990s, that’s nothing new. We remember the late GOP campaign consultant Arthur Finkelstein’s strategy: Call your opponent a liberal again and again until voters believe it.
Finkelstein’s style was “unmistakable,” wrote Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post in 1996, “an avalanche of attack ads painting Democrats as ‘liberal,’ ‘ultraliberal,’ ‘embarrassingly liberal’ and ‘unbelievably liberal.’”
Each cycle, Finkelstein returned to his name-calling strategy, and each cycle, political reporters and handicappers rolled their eyes and snickered at his ads, which were as shallow and superficial as they were predictable. They were all about labeling and demonizing.
But in Finkelstein’s case, shallow didn’t necessarily mean ineffective. “Liberal” became a pejorative, and Finkelstein took advantage of that.
The consultant, who died in 2017, worked for a long list of high-profile and successful Republicans and conservatives, including Sens. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Connie Mack of Florida, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Alfonse M. D’Amato of New York. He also worked for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After a while, Finkelstein’s strategy grew stale. Democrats wisely nominated a politically moderate Southerner in 1992 in Bill Clinton, and 12 consecutive years in the White House left the GOP with enough baggage to hand the presidency to the Democrats (albeit with a little help from Ross Perot).
Still, it’s undeniable that the liberal label has been an albatross around the necks of Democratic nominees for decades.
A successful strategy
Now, Republicans have raised the stakes by trying to brand the entire Democratic Party as advocating “socialism.”
Of course, the Democratic Party is a long way from being socialist, but the election of a few high-profile, self-declared Democratic socialists has given Republicans the hook they need to portray the entire party as “socialist.”
Defining Democrats as “liberals,” “progressives” or “socialists” is likely to continue to be a successful strategy for the GOP.
February’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found only 23 percent of respondents identified themselves as “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal,” compared to 38 percent who embraced the “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative” labels.
Of course, those numbers reflect how people see themselves, not where they actually fall on the ideological scale. But since people are more likely to pick a category they like over one with negative connotations, it is surely relevant that a strong plurality chose the conservative label over the liberal one.
As always, there is another side to the coin. The same February NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey asked respondents whether government should do “more things” (usually seen as a more liberal response) or whether it was already doing “too many things,” (the normally more conservative answer).
A surprising 55 percent of respondents said government should do more compared to only 41 percent who said it should do less. In fact, attitudes seem to be changing.
While Gallup recently found Americans age 30 and older continue to have a much more favorable view of capitalism than socialism, those aged 18-29 have a more favorable view of socialism.
The right response
In the near term, Democrats need to figure out how to respond to the GOP’s attempts at branding the party of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Biden.
Do they merely laugh off the “socialism” charge, aggressively dismiss the characterization or look for a way to fight back, possibly by turning the tables on the party of Donald Trump, Steve King, Mike Pence and Sean Hannity?
One possible but very risky approach would be to link Trump and his party to an extreme form of conservative populism: fascism. But few Democratic candidates or officeholders would want to get into a name-calling war with the president, and equating Trump and GOP with fascism would likely be seen as demagoguery.
Fascism is such a loaded word — evoking images of Mussolini and Hitler — that it could generate a backlash, putting the Democrats on the defensive. The obvious answer is to create and repeatedly use a new term, possibly “Trumpism,” that describes the president’s attributes and behavior, from his narcissism and problem telling the truth to his crude language, his appointments of unqualified people and his demeaning of opponents. It would include his gentle treatment of dictators, especially compared with his attitude toward America’s allies, and his efforts to undermine key American institutions when it suits his purposes.
Of course, instead of looking for a new label to define the GOP, Democrats could simply fall back on their traditional attacks – including charging that Republican policies are dividing the country and are hurting children, seniors, women and racial minorities. Depending on where the economy is, those more traditional attacks might well be enough to keep Republicans on the defensive.
Perhaps the best way for Democrats to push back against the socialist label is the simplest — to nominate a pragmatic progressive who, on an issue or two, deviates from liberal orthodoxy and is more concerned with self-discipline, integrity, tolerance, and the ability to unite opponents of Donald Trump than with mere ideological purity.
That would make the GOP’s “socialism” charge both hollow and ineffective.
This column appeared initially in the April 30, 2019 issue of Roll Call.
For most of the last campaign cycle, Republican ad-makers treated then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi like a piñata.
They used her name and image in thousands of GOP television spots around the country, trying to turn the midterm election into a referendum on her liberalism and “San Francisco values.” That effort failed, of course, because midterms are never about the minority party’s congressional leadership, at least not when the president is someone as controversial and polarizing as Donald Trump.
But Pelosi, who turns 79 today, didn’t merely survive the GOP attacks. She has prospered and continues to be the glue that holds the Democratic Party together, proving again and again that those of us who believed last summer that her party would be better off with new leadership were completely wrong.
In fact, Pelosi may be the only individual now able to keep her party together and keep Trump back on his heels. Pelosi — not Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nor Sen. Elizabeth Warren nor Rep. Ilhan Omar — remains the leader of the Democratic Party, no matter how often Republicans and their allies try to paint the Democrats as a lunatic band of socialists preparing to ban cows and air travel.
Since last year’s election, Pelosi has shown her gifts as a leader, vote-counter and strategist. She succeeded in winning another term as speaker and, so far, has kept a more fractured party together.
Last August, almost three months before the midterms, The New Republic published a piece titled “The Democrats’ Real Pelosi Problem Is After the Midterms.”
The focus of that piece and others was the substantial number of Democratic House hopefuls who insisted that they could not and would not support Pelosi for speaker.
And yet, she successfully maneuvered through the mini-revolt of newly elected pragmatists from suburban, swing districts and outspoken progressives who wanted fresh leadership and were impatient for change.
Yes, she had to make a handful of deals to keep the speakership, including agreeing to only four more years in the position. But making deals is nothing new for Pelosi.
Only a few weeks later, she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave Trump enough rope to allow him to hang himself (politically, that is) when the government shutdown and the president shouldered most of the blame.
Between two wings
How was Pelosi able to survive those very different challenges? One of the congresswoman’s great skills, a former House Democratic staffer told me recently, is that “she is comfortable both with being in the establishment and with challenging the establishment.”
While Pelosi has long political bloodlines and was elected to the Democratic National Committee in her mid-30s, she hasn’t always been the insider she has become.
When she defeated Maryland Rep. Steny H. Hoyer in a fall 2001 contest to become the House Democrats’ new whip, The Washington Post observed that while Hoyer “had chaired the Democratic Caucus and served in other leadership posts, Pelosi styled herself as an outsider who would bring a fresh approach to inside-the-Beltway politics.”
Only 13 months after winning the whip job, Pelosi was elected House minority leader by her party. That made her the first woman to lead a party in either the House or Senate.
She ran, she said back then, “as a seasoned politician and experienced legislator. It just so happens that I am a woman, and we have been waiting a long time for this moment.”
Apparently, Pelosi had no problem morphing from insurgent outsider to experienced legislator in the blink of an eye.
As a woman in an arena dominated by men, Pelosi had to see herself as something of an outsider intent on making history.
That fact may well make it easier for her to understand the ambition and impatience of her younger House colleagues, many of whom are women.
In spite of her liberal bent, Pelosi is smart enough and strategic enough in her thinking to know where her party can and cannot go.
Her efforts to short-circuit talk of possible impeachment is just the latest example of her savvy.
Her ideological positioning in the party, her gender and her fundraising IOUs have allowed her to survive when others might have lost control of House Democrats.
Even those new House members who would like the party to change more are quick to respect Pelosi.
They understand that she rose up through leadership starting at a time when junior members were expected to be “seen but not heard.”
Of course, Pelosi’s role as party leader will end about a year from now, when the Democratic Party has a de facto presidential nominee.
That person will represent the party nationally, though Pelosi, as speaker, will still have a significant voice.
For years, observers of the House have been asking each other when Pelosi will call it quits. Her recapturing of the speakership, combined with her promise not to serve more than two more terms in the House’s top post and her age, suggest that retirement is fast approaching.
That development, whenever it happens, is likely to be a far bigger headache for the Democratic Party than the gentlelady from California has ever been.
Note: This column appeared initially in the March 26, 2019 issue of Roll Call.
We don’t know exactly how many House seats Democrats will gain in November, though Democratic control of the chamber next year looks almost inevitable. But even now it is clear that the midterm results will move Republicans further to the right. Where the Democrats will stand is less clear.
In the House, GOP losses will be disproportionately large in the suburbs and among members of the Republican Main Street Partnership, the House GOP group that puts “country over party” and values “compromise over conflict,” according to its website.
Not all the 70-plus members of the group are pragmatists or generally seek to defuse partisanship, but many are endangered this election cycle.
GOP casualty list?
Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia and Mike Coffman of Colorado are headed for defeat, and Democrats are likely to flip the seats of retiring pragmatists such as Florida’s Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Pennsylvania’s Ryan A. Costello, and New Jersey’s Frank A. LoBiondo and Rodney Frelinghuysen, as well as the seats of former Pennsylvania Reps. Charlie Dent and Patrick Meehan.
Reps. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, Kevin Yoder of Kansas and Peter Roskam of Illinois are running even or behind their Democratic challengers, as are Mimi Walters of California and Leonard Lance of New Jersey. (Roskam is not listed as a member on the Main Street website.)
Some Republican pragmatists and advocates of increased cooperation with Democrats, including Reps. Will Hurd of Texas and John Katko of New York, are likely to survive the wave. They are the exceptions to the general rule.
But at least 30 of the House members listed on the Main Street website are now at risk in the midterms, and when Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan starts to crawl on to some endangered Republican lists, you know that most of the remaining GOP pragmatists on Capitol Hill have reason to be nervous.
Not every Republican incumbent in a tough race, though, is a pragmatist who at least talks about changing the tone on Capitol Hill.
A handful of Freedom Caucus members are at risk — including Iowa’s Rod Blum, Virginia’s Dave Brat, North Carolina’s Ted Budd and California’s Dana Rohrabacher — and a number of conservatives are retiring or running for governor, including former Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida (who left Congress last month to focus on his gubernatorial bid) and Steve Pearce of New Mexico.
Rep. Jason Lewis, a Minnesota conservative, will likely lose, and the GOP’s California delegation will take a significant hit.
This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list of Republican losses, but it does demonstrate that while there will be House losses across the party’s ideological spectrum, the biggest losses — relatively speaking — will be among party members for whom “compromise” is not a dirty word and Donald Trump is a liability.
The House Republican Conference next year will be smaller but also more conservative and presumably more belligerent being in the minority.
The effect on the Democrats is more complicated and less certain.
On one hand, Democrats are likely to add a number of more pragmatic members to their caucus. These members won’t be “conservatives,” but they are less likely to see everything in knee-jerk ideological and partisan terms.
Among the likely winners in November are Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, who won a special election this cycle and is a solid favorite over GOP incumbent Keith Rothfus in a newly drawn district. Former Navy helicopter pilot and prosecutor Mikie Sherrill looks likely to win Frelinghuysen’s open seat, and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew appears an easy winner in the district LoBiondo is vacating.
If they win, Democrats from upscale suburban areas — e.g., Virginia’s 10th, Kansas’ 2nd and 3rd, Minnesota’s 2nd and 3rd, New Jersey’s 3rd, 7th and 11th, and a handful of California seats — will be well aware of the “swing” nature of their districts, and they will be less likely to be robotic followers of their party’s liberal agenda, particularly on economic issues.
But while the House Democratic Caucus will add more pragmatic members who represent competitive districts, it will also see an influx of progressives who say the party has been too timid when it comes to proposing and defending liberal proposals.
All of the energy on the Democratic side is on the left, and progressives surely will demand an unapologetically confrontational approach to Trump nationally and on Capitol Hill.
The fight over the direction of the party is likely to play out first when House Democrats choose their leadership after the midterms.
In mid-August, NBC News identified more than four dozen Democratic incumbents and candidates who’ve indicated they won’t support Nancy Pelosi for speaker next year if the party takes the House.
Not all of the candidates on that list will win, and Pelosi’s opponents come from both the more moderate and the more progressive wings of the party.
While much of the opposition to Pelosi obviously is generational, not ideological, it’s notable that Lamb, Sherrill, North Carolina’s Dan McCready and Kathy Manning, Virginia’s Abigail Spanberger, Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin and Kansas’ Paul Davis are among those who have said the party needs new leadership.
Republicans will surely call next year’s House Democratic agenda “extreme,” “radical” and “socialist.”
But those labels reflect the GOP’s knee-jerk ideological approach and beliefs as much as the Democrats’ positioning, and the Democratic Party will need to work out its agenda during the next two years, when its voters will pick a presidential standard-bearer.
That nominee will, to a large degree, define the positioning of the Democratic Party just as the 2020 Republican nominee will make a statement about the GOP’s values and direction.
Note: This column originally appeared in Roll Call on October 4, 2018.
Assuming the FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t uncover some startling new information, the Senate is likely to confirm him to the Supreme Court and the political effects on the midterms could go in two different directions.
Democratic lawmakers will complain, of course, that the inquiry wasn’t thorough enough, that Kavanaugh lacks a judicial temperament, that he is too partisan to sit on the land’s highest court, and that he wasn’t completely honest with the Senate Judiciary Committee about his drinking.
Still, if all 51 Republican senators are looking for a way to confirm Kavanaugh, Democrats are powerless to derail the nomination.
The impact on the fight for the House is likely to be minimal.
There probably will be about a month between Kavanaugh’s confirmation and Nov. 6, which should give many voters an opportunity to refocus on other issues, be they health care, immigration or President Donald Trump’s performance.
Of course, in states with early/absentee/mail voting, the confirmation fight will still be on some people’s minds. But the Kavanaugh fight has not redrawn the electoral battle lines during the final six weeks of the election.
Democrats were already energized when Kavanaugh was nominated, and Trump’s strongest supporters have remained loyal to him no matter what he says or does.
Republican primary turnout was good, though it didn’t match — and isn’t likely to match — Democratic turnout or enthusiasm.
Recently, some pollsters have argued that heightened Republican enthusiasm could eat into the Democrats’ expected turnout advantage in November. But if and when Kavanaugh is confirmed, that event will give the GOP “control” of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, and that will remove some of the urgency about the midterms for Republican voters.
Democrats, on the other hand, will see the midterms as their only opportunity to check Trump and his party. During the month between Kavanaugh’s confirmation and Election Day, the president is likely to return to his combative mode.
He will interject himself back into every House race, as he has been for months, thereby reminding voters that the midterms are about him.
The 2018 election’s crucial swing group — college-educated whites/white women — will be at least as energized after the Kavanaugh fight as they were before his nomination.
Polls have shown for months that swing voters (particularly women) have been preparing to send a loud message to Trump and the Republican Party, and the accusations about Kavanaugh will only further motivate college-educated women who live in the suburbs.
Both national polls and district surveys conducted by the media and by campaigns, as well as campaign spending decisions by the parties and PACs, show at least a modest Democratic wave developing.
According to national media reports, influential Republican political action committees have pulled out of Virginia’s 10th District (Barbara Comstock), Colorado’s 6th District (Mike Coffman) and Michigan’s 8th District (Mike Bishop).
Those districts are telling, since Coffman and Comstock were able to win even while Democratic presidential nominees were carrying their districts, and Bishop represents a district carried by both Trump in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012.
All three are politically competitive suburban districts. District-level polling also shows significant Republican problems — again, primarily in the suburbs — in New Jersey, Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and California, and Republican funds are now flowing into districts not initially regarded as even competitive in the past.
Democratic gains of at least 30-35 seats currently appear likely, and there is little reason to believe that the Kavanaugh confirmation fight will change that outcome.
Indeed, if it does have any impact, it will probably be to the Democrats’ advantage.
Meanwhile, in the Senate
The Supreme Court battle could have quite a different effect on the race for the Senate. Instead of college-educated, suburban whites being the key swing demographic group, self-identified Republicans, rural voters and Trump voters are crucial in these contests.
Democratic incumbents in North Dakota and West Virginia certainly need to win some of those voters to have any chance of surviving (as do Democratic incumbents in three or four other states).
So Democratic senators in difficult races have a complicated calculation to make.
On one hand, if Republicans are going to confirm Kavanaugh with 50 or 51 votes anyway, endangered Democratic senators could boost their chances by casting meaningless votes in favor of the nominee — thus proving their political independence to swing voters and Republican voters in pro-Trump states such as North Dakota, West Virginia and Indiana.
On the other hand, the intensity of the Kavanaugh fight makes it more difficult for Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin III and Joe Donnelly to support confirmation because Democratic base voters are so outraged at Trump and Senate Republicans.
Voting for Kavanaugh — even if it has no impact on his confirmation — could anger and alienate those voters, which could well be fatal to the Democratic incumbents.
Of course, Democratic senators such as Donnelly now have new arguments to explain a vote against confirmation — the alleged unfairness of the process, questionable statements from Kavanaugh and the unanswered questions raised during the testimony of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
While Democrats would love to kill the Kavanaugh nomination, dragging out the process to fill the court’s vacancy would only add to the concerns of Democratic senators running in heavily pro-Trump states by elevating the importance of partisanship, ideology and the Supreme Court.
That is less of a problem for Democrats in the House than it is for this cycle’s Senate class. Given the unexpected twists and turns of our politics these days — and of the Kavanaugh confirmation process — it’s probably wise not to rule out a few more twists and turns before November.
This column originally appeared in Roll Call on October 2, 2018.
I’m tired of all the noise and hype. I’m tired of the daily crises. I’m tired of the drama that is produced by President Donald Trump. I’m tired of the suffocating coverage by the national media of the chaos that swirls around the administration. I’m tired of the obvious partisanship on Capitol Hill. I wish it would all stop, but I know it won’t.
I’m tired of the stupid tweets from the president of the United States that wouldn’t be appropriate for a 12-year-old school yard bully, let alone someone who is supposed to be a world leader.
I’m tired of the lies and efforts to misdirect that come from Sarah Huckabee Sanders and other members of the White House and friends of the president.
I’m tired of Trump’s ridiculous rallies — his attacks on the media and the “deep state,” his misstatements about the economy, and his efforts to undermine important institutions such as the Department of Justice and the FBI.
I’m tired of all of those people standing behind him, wearing their MAGA hats and waving signs, and cheering mindlessly when he mocks his adversaries, attacks America’s allies and brags about his alleged accomplishments.
I’m tired of much of the media coverage. While I agree with most critics of the president and Republicans on Capitol Hill, I wonder why the major cable networks can’t take a break once in a while from talking Trump (or more recently, Judge Brett Kavanaugh) and instead give me some other news.
Something else MUST be going on around the world.
Could we get some more coverage of Venezuela? The nationalist regimes in Poland and Hungary? The change in leadership in Australia? China’s economy and foreign policy efforts? Africa? Something must be happening there.
I’d even like to see or read pieces on how the states are dealing with health care or economic issues.
I’m unbearably tired of the endless panels on CNN and MSNBC going over the same topics all day. And I’m tired of cable television guests who talk about the midterms but know as much about elections as I do about nuclear physics.
I’m tired of the cable shows that feature panels/guests who are only on one side of the argument, and I’m tired of cable shows that have two guests from different parties yelling at each other rather than trying to be analytical.
I’m tired of Capitol Hill Republicans who refuse to comment on and criticize stupid things the president says or does.
Nobody can ever answer a question with “yes” or “no.” I’m tired of that, too.
I’m tired — really, really tired — of the hypocrisy. I’m tired of Republicans expressing shock that Democrats are trying to delay the confirmation of Kavanaugh and apparently forgetting that they wouldn’t take up the nomination of Merrick Garland, for no other reason than Barack Obama nominated him.
I’m tired of Democrats acting as if they wouldn’t do the same thing that Republicans are now doing if they were in the majority.
You see, I watched Democrats avoid criticizing Bill Clinton when he had his scandal, and I saw former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid begin the slippery slope of undermining the filibuster.
Oh, and I’m seriously tired of people complaining about “false equivalence.”
Sure, I’ll admit that I’m not equally tired of everything.
I’m most tired about Trump’s misstatements about the 2016 campaign, his complete lack of understanding about trade and deficits, his ignorance of American history, and his bragging and narcissism.
And, of course, I’m really tired of his lies and misstatements — and his constant efforts to accuse people of doing things of which he is guilty.
By now, you certainly want to know why I’m still writing about politics if I’m so tired of it all.
That’s a fair question.
Part of the answer is that I’m not certain what else I would do.
Part of it, I’m sure, is force of habit.
I have been watching the evening news since I was a child.
We were a Huntley-Brinkley family. And my family got two newspapers delivered each day — The New York Times in the morning and the Journal-American in the afternoon.
I’ve been watching and reading about politics for at least 60 years. I still remember how excited I was right before the 1960 election and how I enjoyed watching the national convention coverage when it was on broadcast TV.
I loved watching Frank McGee and John Chancellor and Bruce Morton.
So you can say that, in part, I’m addicted.
But I also remain fascinated and entertained by the game of politics.
Maybe I will get so tired of all the tumult associated with Trump that I’ll simply walk away.
But not today.
Not at least until after the midterms, when we see more winners and losers, and when the truly bizarre story we are all now following may show signs of coming to an end.
This column appeared originally in Roll Call on September 26, 2018.