THE OBSTRUCTION QUESTION. Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted criticism of Democrats for being leaderless and obstructionist.
The Democrats, without a leader, have become the party of obstruction.They are only interested in themselves and not in what's best for U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2017
This, along with similar criticism of “historic Democratic obstruction” from White House aide Kellyanne Conway, made a number of groups on the left very happy, as they have been working hard to obstruct Trump’s agenda. “Kellyanne Conway inadvertently calls the resistance effective,” boasted a Share Blue story.
Observed Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, after Republicans and Democrats came to a budget agreement: “There is no downside to strongly fighting Trump with backbone. It’s good politics and good policy — and a prerequisite to Democrats inspiring voters and winning big in 2018.”
It’s stunning turnabout given Democratic complaints about Republican obstructionism under Obama, but taking pointers from the party that defeated them is the new Democratic way. And Republicans don’t like it one bit.
Trump’s supporters see that “Democrats have not even made a pretense of cooperation with the candidate they elected,” asserted columnist Marc Theissen, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, in the Washington Post. “The Democratic Party is no longer the opposition; it is ‘The Resistance.'”
All of this is sending a message to Trump voters, he writes: “The Democrats’ unrelenting, hyperventilating obstruction of Trump has sent [a crystal clear] message to millions of Obama-Trump voters: We don’t hear you. We loathe your president and all of you who put him into office. And we’re going to show you what you can do with your Trump vote, by doing everything in our power to undermine the man you elected.”
It’s a note of caution Democrats may choose to dismiss as Republican concern trolling (undermining opponents with faux-sympathetic advice), yet at some point candidates hoping to be lifted by anti-Trump fervor will have to explain how they intend to repair relations with the white-working-class communities that turned against them in 2016.
That’s something they were unable to do despite talking endlessly about the economy during the most recent presidential election, reports Greg Sargent in a piece on some recent polling: “A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy — twice the percentage that said the same about Trump. … Obama-Trump voters, many of whom are working-class whites and were pivotal to Trump’s victory, are economically losing ground and are skeptical of Democratic solutions to their problems.”
The conclusion of the post-election analysis he discussed, by the Democratic super-PAC Priorities USA, was that “[Hillary] Clinton and Democrats’ economic message did not break through to drop-off or Obama-Trump voters, even though drop-off voters [who didn’t cast a ballot in 2016] are decidedly anti-Trump.”
ANOTHER CAUTIONARY NOTE FOR DEMS. A flashing yellow light comes from across the Atlantic, reports the Washington Post: “In 2015, Britain’s Labour Party tacked to the left, repudiating the middle-way philosophy that had won it three elections under Tony Blair. Voters responded by handing the party its worst defeat in three decades.
“Rather than scramble back toward the center, Labour lurched further left. The party elected as its leader Jeremy Corbyn, a white-bearded baby boomer from the back benches who, like Bernie Sanders in the United States, ignited an improbable movement among young activists with his attacks on the rigged capitalist system and unquestioned fidelity to socialist ideals.
“Now, with less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.”
MAY DAY MAY DAY. May Day rallies took place and are expected around the country at more than 100 locations, including in New York’s Union Square. In San Francisco, protestors targeted a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, reports Meagan Day of Mother Jones magazine:
It's May Day and the babies are painting the streets red ???? pic.twitter.com/3gZ1MgYg8w
— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) May 1, 2017
— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) May 1, 2017
And in D.C. they chanted “Si, se puede!” [Yes, we can!] and marched against “the Trump administration’s criminalization of immigrants” at a march co-sponsored by CASA in Action and 32BJ SEIU, among other groups:
— Nick Wertsch (@nwertsch) May 1, 2017
— Doug Foote (@FooteSteppes) May 1, 2017
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez joined the marchers, as did Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and a number of House of Delegates members from Virginia and Maryland.
PITCHFORKS OUT FOR SHERIFF CLARKE. “Thousands are expected to take to the streets of Wisconsin on Monday to demand that the governor remove controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a tough-talking firebrand who wants to use his deputies and correction officers to enforce federal immigration laws,” reported CNN in a set-up piece. “Among other concerns, organizers of the march in Milwaukee are critical of Clarke’s desire to join the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which essentially deputizes local law enforcement agencies to operate as federal immigration agents.”
Clarke warned last year during a campaign appearance for Trump-Pence, “It is pitchfork-and-torches time in America.”
Scenes from the protest courtesy of Fox6 Milwaukee political reporter Theo Keith:
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) May 1, 2017
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) May 1, 2017
GOP RETIREMENT WATCH. Being in the majority but not being able to move legislation is a demoralizing business, GOP sources tell me — as is being on the receiving end of endless constituent pressure over the actions of the administration. “U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida’s longest-serving member of Congress and political godmother to Miami Republicans, is quitting Congress after nearly four decades in office, providing Democrats a prime opportunity to pick up a seat that heavily favors them,” reported Politico on Sunday.
“In leaving Florida’s newly drawn 27th Congressional District, Ros-Lehtinen almost assured the Democrats will pick up her seat. No Republican-held House district gave Trump a lower share of the vote in 2016 than Ros-Lehtinen’s. Trump got just 39 percent of the vote in the district, while Hillary Clinton got more than 58 percent — more than 5 points better than Barack Obama in 2012, even as Florida shifted into the Republican column in 2016.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee couldn’t be more excited about her decision. “There’s no question that her retirement is a game changer and this race is a top pick-up opportunity in 2018,” said DCCC spokesman Tyler Law in a statement.
A “MARCH FOR TRUTH” ON TRUMP’S RUSSIAN TIES. The #TrumpRussia Twittersphere is taking its activism offline, announcing a Saturday June 3 “March for Truth” and demanding the appointment of a special prosecutor to examine possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Over the weekend the group launched a fundraising effort for planned protests in D.C., L.A. and New York, which gained attention online.
Lead organizers include Andrea Chalupa, Jordan Uhl and Justin Hendrix — “friends who have met through Twitter,” in Chalupa’s description — all of whom have been obsessed with the story. But it was only after the Daily Beast reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee was desperately understaffed and ill-prepared to undertake a real investigation into the question of Russian election-meddling that they decided to issue a call for a march.
Already they’ve had feelers from organizers in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Raleigh, Portland, Grand Rapids, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Helena and Charleston.
“We’re pleased to see some from red states joining in,” said Hendrix. “It’s been impressive to us how much infrastructure seems to be in place for this kind of activity.”
BOOM TIME FOR PUBLIC COMPLAINTS ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL ETHICS. Reports Evan Osnos in the New Yorker, in a piece examining the net of federal and local laws and regulations into which Trump has galloped: “Between October and March, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics received more than thirty-nine thousand public inquiries and complaints, an increase of five thousand per cent over the same period at the start of the Obama Administration. Nobody occupies the White House without criticism, but Trump is besieged by doubts of a different order, centering on the overt, specific, and, at times, bipartisan discussion of whether he will be engulfed by any one of myriad problems before he has completed even one term in office—and, if he is, how he might be removed.”