Democrats Fail In Last Chance Of Pulling Out A Special Election Victory

A Cluster of Atlanta Suburbs That Trump Won Only By A Hair, Transforms Suddenly Into a Momentum-Killing Pipe-Dream

Trump’s approval ratings are low and falling. Republicans in congress are cooking up, in secret, what seem to be wildly unpopular laws. And yet, they keep winning. Special elections to replace members of congress who joined the Trump Administration are over, with Republicans successfully replacing Republicans in 100% of them.

In Georgia, Republican Karen Handel handily beat Democrat Jon Ossoff, in the most expensive congressional race ever. Ossoff ended up losing by about 11,000 votes, or a margin of 52 to 48%. That means his campaign ended up blowing $185 on each losing vote.

A less-watched special election in South Carolina was a lot closer, with the Republican, Ralph Norman, winning by just a couple of thousand votes over Democrat Archie Parnell. (But as we’ve pointed out repeatedly, in politics, close doesn’t count. Even if you make up 75% of an enormous gap. You win, or you lose, that’s it.) Norman will fill the seat vacated by now budget director Mick Mulvaney. Democrats were more cautious about their chances in this race, but at the height of the Trump/Comey conflict considered the seat “in play.”

Trump’s Unseen Layer Of Support?

The Georgia results, to us, send one clear message: Democrats (and also some Republicans,) have to deal with the fact that as astounding as it seems, people may actually like Trump. Maybe they won’t admit it publicly. Maybe they’ll even say to you (and pollsters) they don’t like him. But as long as he’s shaking things up and entertaining the masses, it’s time to consider he may have an unseen layer of support that goes beyond his more vocal and fervent base.

David Frum, writing in the Atlantic, suggests even if you don’t believe that’s true, there’s one person who certainly does after last night, and that’s Trump, which means he’ll now pursue his radical agenda with renewed vigor.

We’re not suggesting Democrats can’t win in 2018. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver writes this morning about how. And Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed outline a battle plan.

But what’s unproductive is the type of reasoning used here by The Daily Kos, which continues to insist Democrats are outperforming (and says anyone who disagrees with them is either a “Republican flack or lazy reporter”) because “neither of these seats should’ve been remotely competitive in the first place.” No: they should’ve been winnable. Because, Trump.

We Often Warn Against Over-analyzing Trump’s Tweets, So We’ll Try To Keep This Simple

We think this perplexing proclamation could mean one of two things:

  1. Trump is saying he’s going to take action of his own against North Korea.
  2. Trump was watching TV shows where they were talking about how China has failed in controlling or pressuring North Korea, and decided he agreed, but also wanted to get his two-cents in, and also let China know he still likes them.

Obviously, option #1 is far more menacing than option #2.

So what do we know?

• Trump has taken a strong personal interest in the case of Otto Warmbier, the 22 year old student who died this week after being sent home from a North Korean detention in a coma. Trump tweeted repeatedly and warmly about Warmbier and been in contact with his family. We will point out the last time Trump expressed this level of empathy, after he’d seen children on TV dying from a chemical attack, he bombed Syria. (That may not be a fair connection to make given the lack of information, but that’s not our fault.)

• We also remembered this Tweet from the President, in April:

• On the other hand, right-wing media, which Trump seems to consume above all other, has been reporting on the Warmbier story incessantly, and Trump recently echoed some of their talking points, (which at their most extreme, blame Liberals and Obama for Warmbier’s fate.)

This dovetails into another story making the rounds: the seeming path to oblivion for daily White House press briefings. The kinds of Tweets we just talked about underscore why you need to do the briefings, and have your people there equipped with answers. You can scream and shout all you want about the media being an enemy of the people, but ultimately it is an advocate for the people. Because sometimes, things just need to be explained.

Saudi Arabia’s King Displaces Heir To The Throne With His Much Younger Own Son

In a surprise move, Saudi King Salman named his 31-year old son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as first in line to the throne, and removed his nephew, 57-year old Prince Mohammed bin Nayef from that position. The King also stripped his nephew of his duties as head of domestic security, which includes counter-terrorism. The official Saudi news agency reports the deposed prince has pledged his loyalty to the new crown prince. Prince Mohammed bin Salman will now also become Deputy Prime Minister. He will also continue as Defense Minister. He has been running the war in Yemen. This is the photo currently on the front page of the official Saudi News Agency website:

Why is this significant? King Salman is 81, and only became King two years ago. It’s unusual for someone as young as his son, popularly known as “MBS”, to become king, and he could end up ruling this Mideast monarchy for decades. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies.

Ukraine President Leaves Washington With One Very Big Unanswered Question

Will the U.S. provide weapons to Ukraine in its ongoing battle with Russian-backed forces occupying Crimea? After a meeting between Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, a Pentagon spokesman said “Ukraine has a right to defend itself against aggressive Russian actions.” And on the question of providing lethal weaponry: “We don’t rule out the option of doing so in the future.”

President Trump wasn’t as directly supportive when he met Poroshenko, and in fact, didn’t outright condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine (something he has never done). But he did talk about more and stricter sanctions against Russians taking part in the incursion. (Poroshenko originally was only supposed to meet Vice President Mike Pence, but the Trump meeting was scrambled together at the last minute.)

Some say the new sanctions were intended to send a message to the Senate which, in a rare bipartisan move, overwhelmingly passed Russia sanctions legislation last week, and also voted to limit the President’s ability to lift sanctions. Trump-supporting House leadership is now holding up final passage of that measure on a technicality, saying the Senate did not have the authority to originate it.

We Were Poking Around For A Cheerful Note To End On, Found This Instead…

According to a really interesting investigative Washington Post report, Trump’s proposed cutbacks in public housing funds do not extend to benefits paid directly to landlords. And of course, this will benefit him personally, since he inherited a whole bunch of federally subsidized housing in Brooklyn from his father.

The Post asserts, while probably not the biggest, this may be one of the clearest examples of the President’s many conflicts of interest.

Help Spread The Word

If you are enjoying our daily The Chaos Report emails, feel free to forward and share it with your friends. They can sign up to get the daily email here.