Last week Donald Trump was hounded about his religious beliefs after he refused to share his favorite Bible verse with Bloomberg Politics, though he's repeatedly declared that the Bible is his favorite book. (When asked if he's "an Old Testament guy or a New Testament guy," he did reveal he's "uh, probably equal.") This sparked a #TrumpBible hashtag, and the candidate got into another religion-related dispute when he said he attends Marble Collegiate Church in Queens. On Friday the church said in a statement, "Donald Trump has had a longstanding history with Marble Collegiate Church, where his parents were for years active members and one of his children was baptized. However, as he indicates, he is a Presbyterian, and is not an active member of Marble."
The media’s obsessive coverage of Donald Trump has been stalked by a cloud of self-imposed shame. The Huffington Post made an early decision to relegate Trump coverage to its entertainment section, reflecting a wide sense that Trump’s contribution to the race was diversionary. It is almost certainly true that Trump will not win the Republican nomination, and even more certainly true that he will not be elected president. But the Trump candidacy — and, in particular, its endgame — will have an enormous impact on the outcome of the presidential race. The question is not whether Trump will affect the outcome of the race, but how.
In the past week, something clicked for Hillary Clinton about her ongoing email scandal. "I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why. I get it," Clinton said after a speech in Iowa on Wednesday. "My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn’t the best choice. I should’ve used two emails: one personal, one for work, and I take responsibility for that decision."
Clinton's admission that she made a poor decision regarding her email habits wasn't momentous in and of itself, but it was a huge shift from the various positions she's taken on the matter thus far. Initially Cli nton took a defensive tone, saying she merely used one email address because she thought "it would be easier to carry one device." As the issue dragged on, she switched to dismissing the story as another GOP witch hunt, declaring, "It's being turned into a partisan attack connected, unfortunately, with the continuing Republican partisanship over Benghazi." She also blamed the press, telling reporters, "Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys," and vigorously protesting an incorrect New York Times report on the subject, even after the paper issued several corrections.
Earlier this month, the Clinton campaign was said to be launching a more aggressive push to paint the issue as a typical inter-agency dispute over classification. And just last week, Clinton tried joking about her emails, saying she loves Snapchat because "those messages disappear all by themselves." When asked about wiping her server before handing it over to the FBI, she cracked, "What, like with a cloth or something?"
Republicans usually deny that there's any war on women, to the point that Fox News' Megyn Kelly was criticized for using the term in a debate question without the preface "so-called." But on Thursday in Little Rock, Arkansas, Ben Carson made an interesting admission. "They tell you that there’s a war on women," he said. "There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country."
Since Ted Cruz habitually undermines the GOP leadership and threatens to shut down the government, we assumed that House Speaker John Boehner was not a big fan, and now he's confirmed it: Boehner called the Texas senator a "jackass" at a Colorado fund-raiser on Wednesday night. Two people in attendance told the Daily Caller that Boehner said he's happy the 2016 campaign is keeping "that jackass" out of D.C., so he can't tell Boehner how to do his job. Attendee Ed MacArthur complained that the remark violated President Reagan's "11th Commandment." "I don’t think it’s terribly speaker-like, and I think it kind of goes against everything that Reagan ever said about disparaging Republicans," he explained.
On Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump — high off of his recent tangle with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos — held a rally in South Carolina. At one point, the leading Republican presidential candidate donned glasses and read aloud from a New York Times story in which a Hispanic radio host referred to him as "el hombre del peluquín," or "the man of the toupee." As he has done countless times in the past, Trump insisted that his hair is his own. "This is getting crazy," he shouted as he made things crazier by persuading a supposedly random female supporter onstage to "do an inspection" of the carefully arranged flaxen wisps atop his head.
During the first two years of the Obama administration, Democrats enjoyed comfortable control of the House of Representatives, and well over half the Senate. Republican leverage became the filibuster, which the party used as a routine supermajority requirement to block everything. Senator Bob Corker was one of those Republicans. Corker helped craft an agreement to bring a bill to a vote in Congress that would overturn the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear agreement. This bill flipped the old dynamic — now it is Democrats who want to block a bill, and Republicans who want to pass it. And Corker is outraged, outraged, that Democrats would resort to a tactic as low as a filibuster to block his bill:
From meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren to huddling with former Obama strategists, Joe Biden has sent many signals about his political future in the past month, and on Wednesday he made his first public comments on his potential 2016 run — though not intentionally. CNN posted audio recorded during what was supposed to be a private conference call for Democratic National Committee members in which the vice-president confirmed that he's actively considering entering the campaign. The call focused on the Iran deal, and after discussing that topic for about an hour, the first question was about Biden's presidential ambitions.
"We're dealing at home with ... whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," Biden responded, alluding to the death of his son Beau in May. "If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up." He added, "I'm not trying to skirt your question. That's the truth of the matter, but believe me, I've given this a lot of thought and dealing internally with the family on how we do this."
After the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on openly gay adult leaders last month, the Mormon Church said it was "deeply troubled" by the decision and would have to reconsider its affiliation with the group. On Wednesday the church announced that it will stay with the Scouts, as the new policy allows local sponsors to select leaders "according to their religious and moral values." "At this time, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of B.S.A. and, as in the past, will appoint scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify church doctrine, values and standards," the church said in a statement. The Mormon Church's exit could have had serious consequences for the organization, as it's the biggest single sponsor of Boy Scout units, accounting for 17 percent of youths in Scouting in 2013.
Republicans, and observers of the Republican Party, have concluded that Donald Trump’s gonzo commandeering of their presidential primary has defied their attempts to suppress it because he is crazy. This is broadly true, but not quite in the way Trump’s befuddled critics mean it. What they say is that Trump is winning because he attracts voters with nonsensical ideas. Lindsey Graham calls Trump “a huckster billionaire whose political ideas are gibberish.” Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson tells Evan Osnos, in Osnos’s paraphrasing, “anyone who runs for office discovers that some portion of the electorate is available to be enraged and manipulated, if a candidate is willing to do it.”
Trump has certainly crafted an appeal to voters who like impractical ideas. But his true threat lies in the fact that Trump himself is crazy — not just ideologically, though he is certainly that as well, but in the sense that he lacks any rational connection between his actions and his goals, to the extent that his goals are discernible at all. That is also his downfall.
Deep behind a tangle of denial and rebranding initiatives, a GOP resuscitation plan emerges.By Frank Rich
When Mark Sanford decided to run for office again, he asked his ex-wife, Jenny, for her blessing. Whether he has her vote is another matter.By Jason Zengerle
Jon Favreau’s most enduring riffs.
Wonkblog Jan. 21, 2013
For all the sound and fury, Washington’s actually making real progress on debt.By Ezra Klein
Mother Jones Jan. 15, 2013
Our debt dysfunction began with the Constitution, funded Manifest Destiny, and makes the trillion dollar coin look tame.By Tim Murphy
Salon Jan. 15, 2012
Harry Reid and other pro-gun Democrats leave Obama in need of unlikely allies.By Steve Kornacki
New York Magazine / Nov. 5, 2010
After November's glitch, Boehner, McConnell and Congress strike familiar poses.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Jan. 25, 2009
Obama drew progressive ire from day one.By John Heilemann
New York Magazine / Nov. 30, 2008
How one undocumented family lives in our sanctuary city.By Jeff Coplon