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Morning Briefing: The GOP is Bracing for a 'Bloodbath' in the Midterms

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 22, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 22, 2017 |

Good morning everyone, and Happy Friday before the holidays. I hope many of you are able to read this from the comforts of your home today instead of the office.

+ In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognized that he has an uphill battle to maintain the Republican majority, but he has vowed to do so, while also offering a dig at Steve Bannon. “Those political geniuses managed to elect a Democrat in the reddest state in America. I rest my case.”

+ Speaking of the midterms, that topic provoked a heated argument in the White House earlier this week when outside adviser Corey Lewandowski raised hell with the political people in the White House in full view of the President. From WashPo:

While Trump did not signal whether he would act on Lewandowski’s suggestions, some White House aides bristled at the outside adviser’s attempt to steer the political strategy. Later, outside the Oval Office, Stepien and Lewandowski had a “very intense” conversation about the broader political operation and what some aides see as Lewandowski’s meddling in it from the outside, while Lewandowski questioned Stepien’s performance, according to advisers with knowledge. The men were later spotted by other aides continuing to argue outside.

Meanwhile, from Politico:

The backstage talks provide a window into how those closest to Trump are bracing for a possible bloodbath in the 2018 midterms, which could obliterate the Republican congressional majorities and paralyze the president’s legislative agenda.

I love the combination of “bloodbath” and “Republicans.”

Meanwhile, even Bannon is not as enamored with Trump, according to Vanity Fair: “Bannon has also remarked on the toll the office has taken on Trump, telling advisers his former boss has ‘lost a step.’ ‘He’s like an 11-year-old child,’ Bannon joked to a friend in November.”

+ Despite Paul Ryan’s enthusiasm for it, Mitch McConnell has stated that entitlement reform will not be on the agenda for 2018, perhaps recognizing that cutting Medicaid and Social Security during an election year is a terrible idea.

+ In a reflection of Trump’s worldwide power and respect, the White House basically threatened any country that voted on a resolution against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The world did not listen. 128 countries voted for the resolution; only 9 voted against it.

+ Look: The #MeToo movement is real, and it’s going to last. Seven in 10 Americans now see sexual harassment as a “very serious problem,” a 34 point shift since 1998. Moreover, 61 percent of registered voters believe the accusations against Trump are true. The same CNN poll says that 2/3 of Americans believe government would be served better with more women in office (and I assume the other 1/3 are men with jobs in government who do not want to lose them to women).

+ Speaking of sexual harassment, our old pal Rep. Blake Farenthold, the Texas creep who sexually harassed and bullied his employees, but who hasn’t yet been booted from Congress (though he has decided against running for re-election) is now in more hot water over potential campaign finance violations after his former communications director alerted the House Ethics Committee to the fact that Farenthold bullied her into doing campaign work. That’s a paddlin’. Then again, if this monster gets booted over minor campaign finance violations and not major sexual harassment allegations, well … I’ll still rejoice.

+ Hey! Remember how Donald Trump ran on a campaign to save the jobs of steelworkers? Well, yeah: About that. It’s not going so well. One mill outside of Philadelphia is laying off 150 of its 207 employees, which reflects a broader trend. Why? Cheaper imports and automation. “Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a trade group that represents steelworkers, said he had ‘a profound sense of frustration that the president has been using steelworkers as political props.’” (NYTimes)

+ The founder and spokesman of Papa John’s Pizza, John Schnatter — who blamed the NFL for slowing pizza sales and took it on the chin from the public — is stepping down, and not because of sexual harassment, but because his company is suffering through a PR nightmare of its own making. Look: Conservatives may own the White House and both Houses of Congress, but progressives (ironically) still control capitalism. Old white dudes may go to the polls, but young people — who support progressive candidates by large percentage — are still the ones who buy the pizza and the sneakers and the smart phones.

+ A retired Air Force colonel and flight surgeon, Dean L. Winslow, has withdrawn his name for consideration as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. Why? Is it because he was unqualified? Was there an embarrassing viral video we missed? No, actually, the Senate Armed Forces Committee put his nomination on indefinite hold because of something he said during the confirmation hearings. From the Washington Post:

“I’d also like to . . . just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic weapon like an AR-15.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) interrupted, warning this was not in my “area of responsibility or expertise.” Soon after, my confirmation was put on hold.

A colonel in the goddamn Air Force had the audacity to say that civilians ought not be able to buy semiautomatic weapons and he was basically taken out of consideration. Incredible.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.